Nalytical Essay: An Analysis of Primary Sources

Read the websites below on primary sources and ways to analyse them:

What Are Primary Sources?

Analysis of Primary Sources

Follow the links on the Analysis of Primary Sourceswebsite above and then read the documents on the Primary Source Set: Slavery in the United States, 1790-1865website at:

The following questions may help you judge the quality of these primary sources:
1. Who created the source and why? Was it created through a spur-of-the-moment act, a routine transaction, or a thoughtful, deliberate process?
2. Did the recorder have firsthand knowledge of the event? Or, did the recorder report what others saw and heard?
3. Was the recorder a neutral party, or did the creator have opinions or interests that might have influenced what was recorded?
4. Did the recorder produce the source for personal use, for one or more individuals, or for a large audience?
5. Was the source meant to be public or private?
6. Did the recorder wish to inform or persuade others? (Check the words in the source. The words may tell you whether the recorder was trying to be objective or persuasive.) Did the recorder have reasons to be honest or dishonest?
7. Was the information recorded during the event, immediately after the event, or after some lapse of time? How large a lapse of time?

After reflecting on each of the documents, pay particular attention to documents 4b-4f and write an essay that answers the following questions:
1. What generalizations about primary historical sources can you make based on this document set?
2. Was any document completely believable? Completely unbelievable? Why or why not?
3. Did some types of sources seem less believable than other kinds of sources? Why do you think this is true?
4. What information about slavery did each document provide? How did looking at several documents expand your understanding of slavery?
5. If you found contradictory information in the sources, which sources did you tend to believe? Why?
6. What additional sources (and types of sources) would you like to see to give you greater confidence in your understanding of slavery?

*** Your answer to question 1 will be your thesis.

Your essay should be about 800-900 words (3-4 double-spaced typed pages).

Submit your completed essay as a WORD document to the Dropbox no later than 11:59 pm January 23.