Primary Source Paper Directions




A primary source is an original account of an event, person, idea, etc. (Ex: newspapers, memoirs, letters, photos, etc.) As such, primary sources are important to how history is written. They offer perspective and help us explain why something matters. The purpose of this assignment is to help you develop critical thinking skills and analytical techniques based on looking at original sources.


*All sources absolutely must be correctly cited (MLA/APA) or you will receive a zero  for the assignment.*


For Paper #2,  follow the directions below:



Log onto the D2L  class site. Click on “Course Content.” Open the folder labeled “Primary Sources for Paper #1.” Choose a primary source listed under this category. After selecting which source you will two-page (doubled-spaced) analytical essay that explains what the source is and why it is important in 2017.


Remember that your paper should be structured as an essay with the following elements in it:


Introduction: Briefly explain what the source is. The author/date/era/etc. At the end of your introduction (the very last line) you must have a thesis. (See pg. 2 of this document for how to write a thesis well.)


Body:  The body paragraphs are where you incorporate background/context about the historical event your source discusses. It is also where you discuss key parts/sentences/paragraphs of the source. You may also include things such as: author’s tone, audience, purpose, etc. Remember that you should not have quotes that are longer than one line long.


Conclusion:   Your conclusion is designed to explain to the audience why someone should care about the source you are writing about. This is where you can (briefly) recap what you’ve said in your paper. But more importantly, it is where you boldly and directly say: this is why this source  matters in 2017. Draw connections between the themes in your source and contemporary issues.











A thesis is an argument, not a statement. It also sets up the rest of the essay. This is why it is so important to write a good one. A thesis example is provided below. Note that it demonstrates cause and effect. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you have the “because clause” in your thesis to make sure you are writing an argument, rather than an opinion or statement.
“Pliny’s letter to Emperor Trajan is important because it demonstrates how attitudes in the Roman Empire toward Christians varied from hostile to tolerant.”


Note that in the example above, the thesis is an argument that also suggests what will be discussed in the body paragraphs (“from hostile to tolerant”).



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