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Freedom in America Paper Assignment

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Step 1:

Pick a topic. What topic are you most interested in pertaining to this course? What is a topic you would be interested in writing a paper on? Your topic should not be too broad. For example, the Harlem Renaissance is too broad. Focusing on a specific cause of the downfall of Reconstruction is a possible topic.

Step 2:

Research the internet and the library for primary sources, or first-hand accounts of documents that relate to your topic. Analyze at least ​at least ONEprimary source for your paper, you may use more than 1, but you must use at least 1.

Step 3:

Analyze.​ When analyzing your document, thoroughly scrutinize the document, what it says, and the argument. Look through “​Guidelines for Analyzing a Primary Source​” (below) to help you come up with a complete analysis of your primary source(s).

Step 4:

Choose at least 4 books and/or articles​ from the library or online journals from the library’s online databases. For journal articles, go to UD’s Library database section. For the databases section, articles on U.S. History can be found through Jstor and Project Muse.

*Do not use any encyclopedia sources or the class readings as a ​secondary ​source. If you use a website, it must be approved by the Instructor. You may use them as a reference, but these do not count towards your secondary sources.

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Step 5:

Make sure you have a ​thesis statement​. This is the most important sentence in your paper. The thesis should be located in the first paragraph of your paper. The statement should be concise​ and not too broad. A thesis is the argument or point of view for your paper. It is something that you and someone else can ​debate​. Your thesis statement should start out by stating something such as “This paper argues that…” The thesis statement is the statement that guides you throughout the paper. All of your main ideas should connect to your thesis statement.


Step 6:

Write your paper! Keep in mind the following:

1) Papers must be typewritten, double-spaced in 12 pt font, and 1-inch margins. Papers should be at least ​5 full pages plus a Works Cited page (6 total)​ and include an introduction, body, and conclusion.

2) You should have a well-articulated ​thesis​. Formulate a central theme that links the primary source document(s) together and connects them to the secondary sources–the books and/or articles you use..

3) Use the “Guidelines for Analyzing Primary Sources” below as a guide. You do not have to answer every question, but be sure to answer the who/what/where/when/why of the document. Describe the audience for this document. Then move on to your own analysis….

4) Analyze your documents. What do they tell you about the cultures that created these stories? How do they enhance our knowledge beyond the course readings and material? Can you discern any deeper meanings beyond what is just on the page? What were the motivations for creating this document? Again, use the “Guidelines…” in order to steer your analysis.

5) Cite sources. Be sure to include a footnote or an endnote for any information you obtain from books or reading assignments. Try to use as few direct quotes as possible and be sure to provide a “​Works Cited​” page at the end.

6) Please use MLA or APA for formatting for your sources. Here is a guide for MLA style:

APA Style: ​https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/01/

7) Proofread your paper. Check for spelling, grammatical errors, contractions, (i.e. do not use them in formal writing).

8.) Do not cheat. I will be using Turnitin.com.

*I do not read rough drafts, but if you would like to email me a thesis statement, I will read it over and provide feedback.


Guidelines for Analyzing a Primary Source:

Those in the humanities rely on primary source documents to provide us with evidence about the past. Primary sources are materials produced during the time period we are studying — for example, old newspapers, letters, speeches, census data, movies, or advertisements. Primary sources also include oral histories, memoirs, autobiographies, and other accounts produced after the fact by people who were alive at the time in question.

Primary sources generally provide clues, not answers. Few were produced to provide objective information in the future; instead, they were meant to make artistic statements, describe current events, persuade people, etc. Different types of primary sources offer different kinds of information, and no one source can give us all the information we might want. Magazine advertisements, for example, can tell us what kinds of goods were available, and what kinds of images advertisers thought would sell products. But ads cannot be counted on to depict reality, nor can they tell us how consumers responded to the sales pitch.

We must, therefore, read each document carefully and critically, and learn how to extract and assess the information it contains, in order to answer our own questions about the past. When you analyze a primary source, be self-conscious and systematic. Think about the evidence before you, whether you are analyzing a written document, an image, or a combination of words and images. Make statements based on this evidence. Try to really look at the document, rather than making statements about what you already know. Keep in mind and ask yourself: How does this document reflect the period it was written in?

Ask the following questions.


• ●  What type of document is this? What is the main point of the document? What is the argument or point of view of the document? • ●  Who created it? Why? Where? How? When? What else was happening at that time? What had not yet happened?


• ●  Who was the intended audience? How do you know? • ●  Can you tell from the document itself how it might have been received at the time? How might you find out more information about its reception? • ●  Was there any unintended audience, besides us? THE LITERARY or PHYSICAL CONTEXT • ●  In what context did this document originally appear? Is it part of a larger piece? Where in that larger piece did it appear?

● What does the document say, what does it contain, what is the plain sense of it?


• ●  What does it look like? Is it an image of the original document, or has it been reprinted? Are there headlines, captions, or clues in the formatting to what is important–or what the author thought was important? If you found it on the web, do you have evidence that the formatting there was in the original? • ●  How is the document organized? Logically? Chronologically? Spatially? What does this suggest about the creator’s intentions or assumptions?


• ●  What are the underlying ideas or assumptions behind, and between the lines of, this document? What feelings or attitudes can you discern that are not explicitly stated? • ●  What is your evidence for this? (It might, for example, be tone, use of metaphors, figures of speech, emotionally charged words or other peculiarities of expression, the nature of the argument, the plan or design, or the details are chosen.) • ●  What can we learn about and from the document by thinking about how the ideas are expressed? What does the writing or style reveal about the meaning of the document? Back up your statements with evidence. • ●  What does it reveal about its author/creator, or about the culture that produced it? • ●  Is there evidence in the document that explains something about its social, cultural,

political, or economic context?

• ●  What does it reveal about the past in general? • ●  If this is part of a larger document, what is its significance within the larger work? • ●  Is there evidence within the document of a significant change — in the thinking of the author, or in the nature of the society?

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