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HIST365 Recent America 1945 to the Present
Research Project Primary Source Analysis
Primary Source Analysis (10% of final grade)
In this assignment, you will evaluate THREE primary sources in preparation for your final Research Paper, which is due in Week 8.
This means learning to identify good sources and not-so-good sources. In a world abounding in fake-news, one of the most important skills you can learn in order to be a good citizen is how to tell a good source from a bad source. This is not about politics; there are good and bad sources on the right and the left. It is about ensuring that your arguments are based on solid evidence.
The Objective: Demonstrate your mastery of Course Goals 1, 2, and 3 by:
1. Accurately and effectively communicating ideas, information, arguments, and messages to present material in a historical context.
2. Investigating and evaluating historical information from global, social and ethical perspectives to guide decision making.
3. Applying historical precedent to contemporary roles, responsibilities, and relationships in order to advance the goals of a community or organization.
Delivery: Submit your assignment as a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file via Source Evaluation in the Assignments Area. No .pdf or other file types are acceptable. You may submit this assignment before that date if you wish. Make sure you include your name on your assignment.
Late submissions will be reduced 10% (10 points) for each week or portion thereof late. ??
Your assignment heading should look like this:
(Your Name)???
HIST 365: Recent America: 1945 to the Present
Prof. (Your Professor’s Name)???
Primary Source Analysis
November 18, 2018 (Today’s Date in Your Preferred Format)
You may either place this at the top of your first page, or you may place this information on a title page. There is no need for a title page, but if you like the tidy flair of a title page, you are most welcome to use one.
Step 1: Briefly state in 2 or 3 sentences what your research paper topic claim is and what you are going to prove.
Step 2: Identify primary sources that relate to your topic of choice.
OK, so what is a primary source? It can be defined as anything created by someone involved in an event, about the event. For example, it could be a diary or a picture. These are the raw bits of history and we use them to understand the people and events under study. Here are resources to help you prepare for this assignment:
What Are Primary Sources?
      Library of Congress: Teaching with Primary Sources (video and transcript) – definition of primary and secondary sources and why use primary sources
      Library of Congress: Why Use Primary Sources
Finding Primary Sources
      Library of Congress: Finding Primary Sources
      National Archives: Finding Primary Sources
How to Cite Primary Sources
      Library of Congress: Citing Primary Sources – Chicago style
How do I Analyze Primary Sources?
      Library of Congress: Analyzing a Primary Source (video and transcript)
National Archives: Primary Source Analysis Worksheets
The National Archives has created analysis worksheets to help you work with primary sources. Copies of these worksheets are provided as attachments in the Primary Source Analysis assignment and also in Course Resources (under Content)  The worksheets consist of a combination of checklists and short-answer questions that will help you focus on the most important elements of many different types of historical documents. You will need the worksheets to complete the Primary Source Analysis assignment,
Step 3:  For each of the three (3) primary sources (any type for which there is an analysis worksheet) on your chosen topic, complete a Primary Source Analysis worksheet from the National Archives. There are a number of web sites such as those of the Library of Congress and the National Archives that contain digitized copies of primary sources that you may use. Please use copies of the primary source – not a transcription – you want to see it as it looked when created/used.
Step 4: After completing the worksheet on each of your THREE (3) primary sources, write a paragraph summary on your headed document with your innovation explanation that includes all of the following information:
The type of primary source (e.g. written document, cartoon, photograph, and so on).
A narrative analysis of the primary source, using the information you collected on the worksheet.  Your analysis only needs to be about a paragraph per source.
Create a bibliographic entry (as you would include it in your bibliography) for the primary source – in your chosen format (APA, MLA, or Chicago) 
Step 5: Submit your work as a Word doc attachment in the assignment folder or under Assignments (on the NavBar). Be sure to attach your worksheets as well.
Wikipedia is an excellent starting point, so you could use a Wikipedia page related to your Project Proposal topic, but you should identify it as a good starting point rather than as a highly credible source. Wikipedia is not bad; in fact it is as accurate as encyclopedias like Britannica. However it is crowd sourced rather than edited by professionals in the field, so it is not suitable for citing as a definitive and credible source. Where Wikipedia is useful is in its overview to give you a general idea of a topic and in the footnotes at the bottom of the page. Though not always, these footnotes are usually chock full of solid sources.
K-12 educational sites are not bad starting points but are not generally peer reviewed. University level .edu sources and .gov sources tend to be credible (Think NASA or the Library of Congress.) as do many museum sites, but even the Smithsonian has been known to be wrong on their websites. Likewise government agencies exist for a specific purpose, which will help you determine in which direction bias may fall. This process is an art rather than a science. The more you do it, the more skilled you will become.
A source that has little credibility would be something like This is essentially a Renaissance Festival resource. It is a fun source to be sure. Likewise anything that has the feel of Bob’s History Page is not going to rank high on your credibility scale – unless of course that Bob is the late Bob Scribner of Cambridge University.

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