The study of the past is more than amassing a storehouse of names, dates, and places. Thinking historically means thinking critically about the pastasking why and how things happened, and searching for evidence among the sources that are left to us.
Historians call these sources from the past primary sources. They include documents, images, material objects, and individual recollections: diaries, letters, memos, manuscripts, contracts, treaties, census records, photographs, film, advertisements, posters, music, household objects, clothing practically anything produced in the past that has survived to the present day can be a source of evidence as we try to piece together what happened and why.
To effectively assess evidence from the past, historians pay close attention to a range of elements common to any source. Essentially, you are applying the historians version of the journalists credo: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How?
Author: Who created this primary source?
Audience: Who was it intended for?
Object: What sort of document is it?
Time frame: When was it created? What was happening during this time period?
Style: Pay attention to tone, word or image choice, rhetorical or visual style
Purpose: What was the creators purpose in making this primary source?
oWhat evidence from the source leads you to this conclusion?
Perspective: What is the authors point of view?
oWhat evidence can you find in the source that reveals the authors perspective?
Argument or Point: What does it say or show? What are the key points the source conveys?
What do you notice first?
What does the creator do to get his or her point across?
Might there be hidden agendas, unintended meanings, or arguments implied but not directly stated?
How do you think it was received by its intended audience? By others?
How is this source like or unlike other sources from this period? Does the information or arguments it presents support or contradict other sources?
What questions does it leave you with?
You, as a historian:
What assumptions about the period, the topic, the author, and the audience do you bring to your reading? Does the source surprise you, or challenge what you think you know?
What questions or problems inform your reading? What answers are you looking for? How does that shape how you interpret your source?
How have others interpreted this source? For what purpose? (Were they asking different questions?)
For your Primary Source Analysis assignments, you should carefully assess the assigned document, considering the questions above, and then in 1-2 pages, answer the following questions:
1)What does the source say or convey?
Who produced it? For whom?
2)What does it mean?
What does it tell us about the values, beliefs, institutions, and problems of the individual, group, or society that produced it?
3)Why do we care?
In other words, why is what we learn about the past from this source important?
4)What is a question that is left unanswered by this source?
Added on 28.09.2016 16:06
One of the attachments is the guidelines. Another attachment is a model on how the analysis should look. I pasted the source link about the title should be \\\”Andrew Jackson\\\”s Second Annual Message\\\”
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