Source Analysis



Analyze two historical sources.

Submission guidelines

Part 1: Double-spaced, Times New Roman 12, 1 inch margins, 4-5 pages excluding the source (if you plan to include it. You can also attach it or provide the citation).

Part 2: Double-spaced, Times New Roman 12, 1 inch margins, 5 pages excluding the sources (if you plan to include them. You can also attach them or provide the citation).

Dates due

Part 1: February 23rd 2016, by e-mail before class.

Part 2: April 14th 2016, by e-mail before class.


An excellent analysis will:

  • Clearly state what we want to learn from this source.
  • Contextualize the document.
    • Ask what the source is, who produced it and for whom; and where, when, and why it was produced.
  • Relate the source to the historical context.
    • Summarize what the source says/means.
    • Connect it to the historical context.
    • Explain references.
    • Explore the complexity of the source.
  • Assess the relevance and impact of the source.

In addition, the second source analysis should:

  • Put the two source into conversation. Think about why it makes sense to analyze them together, in which ways they answer your big question (what you want to learn), and in which ways the contradict/agree with each other. Sell your choice.
  • Be descriptive only if necessary. Give details of the sources when they help you build your argument. Do not spend two pages describing the documents and one paragraph analyzing them. That’s not an analysis.
  • Make sure your introduction and conclusion are coherent.
    • The introduction should clearly state what you are trying to learn.
    • The conclusion should clearly answer that.
  • Citations:
    • Use them when you give information that you cannot have known.
    • Use them when you paraphrase ideas that are not your own.
    • DO NOT use references for the sake of having references. Your grade does not depend on how many people you cite.
  • Structure. Your paper should go from simplicity to complexity. As you move forward in it, you should be challenging assumptions or highlighting problems with your sources. For example, if your source claims that “the people” wanted land redistribution, you should ask who “the people” were, who represented them, and who claim land redistribution in their name. You may not have the answers to all this, but posing the questions already suggests another level of analysis.
  • Do not trust your sources. Be like a detective: be skeptical. You are not trying to sell a document, you are trying to sell a question. Hence, challenge the sources.