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Formatting requirements:
 750-1250 words (approximately 3-5 pages)
 Double-spaced
 12pt font, Arial or Times New Roman
 1 inch margins
What to write and how to write it:
1. Summary: After reading one of the primary sources assigned this semester, write a paragraph summarizing the following information about it. This will be the briefest paragraph in your paper. A good paragraph will contain the following information (Sometimes the answers are not always clear, but do your best):
a. Which of the documents will you be writing about?
b. Who wrote this document? (The person or group’s name, age, sex, nation/ethnic background, and anything else essential to understanding the document’s creator)
c. What was this document originally? (A law, speech, Part of a diary, newspaper report, letter, pamphlet, novel, book, poster, poem, play, or something else.)
d. When was this document created, written, produced?
e. Where was this document made?
f. What was the document for? What was its purpose?
2. Context: This is where you will explain the historical context for your primary source. Consult your textbook, American Yawp for more information about the historical period in which your document originated. Most of the documents have dates, but if it’s not obvious use your best judgement. Do not just pick random facts about events happening around the same time as your primary source. Some historical events will be more relevant to your primary source than others. Look for those that have an important relationship to your source. Make sure to explain how your primary source is related to the broader events. (Your job here is to convince me how certain events were related to and why they matter for understanding the primary document under discussion.)
The next few paragraphs should use that information to answer the following questions (Again, some questions will be easier to answer or more relevant to your document than others, but try to give thoughtful answers to all of them the best you can.):
a. What relevant historical events, movements, changes, conflicts, trends does American Yawp mention were going on at the time this document was created?
b. What historical events, movements, changes, conflicts, trends, places does American Yawp mention were going on in/near the place this document was created?
c. What historical events, movements, changes, conflicts, trends, does American Yawp mention were happening to the type of person or people who made this document?
d. How the answers to questions a, b, and c reflected in what the document says? What about what it doesn’t say?
3. Analysis: This should be the substance of your paper. Quoting, paraphrasing, or otherwise using specific pieces of evidence from the document to support your argument, (Look for words, phrases, sentences, etc. that demonstrate your points/arguments) write one or more paragraphs in which you explain:
a. Who was the intended audience for the document?
b. How might the answer to the preceding question “a” have affected what the document said or left out?
c. How did the purpose of the document affect what was recorded/described or not recorded? How did the background of the author/creator influence his/her perspective on the event(s) they wrote about? How can you tell?
d. What does this document help you to understand better or what was important about this period or American history more broadly?
e. What does the document reveal about the period of American history in which it was made?
Note: The most thorough resource for guidance on all things academic history research and writing, used by virtually all historians, is Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers, available in many editions. The authoritative work on the scholarly conventions of Chicago-style citation and composition, it covers everything. In composing their papers, should any students wish to avail themselves of the deep font of wisdom that is the reverend Turabian, the Queens College Library reference section contains copies of both the 7th and 8th editions! Please, try not to stampede the library staff and keep the clamor down to only that which is truly necessary in your enthusiasm to consult the fountain of scholarly enlightenment found therein.
Choices: 1.A set of primary sources of the Civil War and Reconstruction (
2.Congress and Lincoln Approve The Freedmen’s Bureau Act of 1865 (
3. An Author of the Thirteenth Amendment of 1866 Responds to the South’s Black Codes ( (
4. Southern-Born Senator from Illinois Advocates Enfranchising African Americans


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