Read and Analyze
For each assigned document, consider the following:
1.) What was the author’s main point (or the point of the laws or other legal document), and how did he
or she support it?
2.) What does this document tell you about the past society and how people lived? Why is this document
significant or important?
3.) Why did the author(s) create the document/speech/laws? In other words, what was his/her
motivation or agenda for writing what they wrote? What did they hope would result from their
speech/laws? To help you analyze the author’s motivation, consider the following:
–If provided, what was the author’s background: did this influence what he/she wrote?
–Who was the audience to whom the speech/document is directed and how might this influence what
the author says (e.g., someone they want money/resources, etc. from)?
–What was the historical context (e.g., when was the document first produced, and what do you know
about that period and what happened just beforehand? Did this affect what was written?
–What was the tone of the document (e.g., optimistic, angry, bitter, empowered, disinterested,
passionate, authoritative, etc.)? How did you discern this? What language was used to convey it? Does
the tone help to reveal motivation?
4.) Other things to consider include the author’s bias (everyone has a bias to one perspective or another).
How might this have affected what the author wrote?
5.) How credible or trustworthy is the author? What makes you feel confident about the author (e.g.,
background, specificity of writing, corroboration from other secondary or primary source, etc.)?
6.) Did this document make you curious about anything? Explain. What questions does it raise for you?
7.) Can you make any connections to other documents/course readings? Be specific in terms of how it
might be similar or different to other documents assigned for the day, or previously.
8.) For some documents, a single author may be less clear. In that case, focus more on what you can
interpret about society from the document, and why certain laws or court decisions were made.
A mini-essay/analysis of two to four paragraphs on the primary source assigned. Consider the above purpose and all of
the questions, but respond in essay format rather than serially answering all the questions. Your essay should have a
thesis and an argument. Your analytical essay does not need to address all of the questions below, but MUST include:
1) a thesis statement (this is the main point you want to make such as the 1927 handout which asserted that
“America is the child of Europe.”) Your thesis should be in the first paragraph.
2) an argument/interpretation (tell me what the documents demonstrate about the society/how we should
understand the documents and this society using proof or evidence from the documents/textbook.)
3) the exact date of the document(s) assigned for the paper; and
4) at least one partial quote from the primary source documents that support your point(s).