Using one of the primary source’s linked below relevant to the colonial period of US history. Write at least 800 words about how it reflects, enriches, and/or challenges what we know about its original setting. Use your knowledge of its historical context (such as the political, economic, cultural, setting etc.) to explain what the source meant to people in its own day, and what it can tell us about their world. This paper should focus on the primary source: analyze it as a piece of evidence from history.

When writing the paper:

•Do a little research to find out about the historical context of the primary source.

–Basic context might include:

•When was your source created and/or used?


•By or for whom?

•Why and how?

–Take notes or start writing the paper as you find useful information. It’s often a good idea to begin the paper with a paragraph that clearly identifies the source and its basic context.

–You do not need to cite the sources of your information in this paper.

–Do not spend too much time researching and writing about context. This paper should focus on analysis, interpretation, historical criticism. It is not a research project. Dive right into the source itself. 

•Read (or examine) your source carefully. Select some interesting features to analyze in the paper.

–Choose some quotes or details.

•Clearly quote, paraphrase, or describe each one.

•What do they show us about that period in history? About how people lived, thought, behaved in that time and place?

Draw some connections to historical context. What specific aspects of historical reality are reflected in each quote or detail? Use your knowledge of those historical realities explain what the quotes or details meant to people back then. 

–Identify some themes, concerns, or ideologies.

•What does the source show us about the general outlook of the people who created or used your source? About how they viewed the world and their place in it? 

Use one of the following linked primary sources:

A sample of a previous student’s paper is attached. 

The paper will be graded using this rubric:

Points possible


Grammar, spelling, word count


Organization, clarity, persuasiveness, historical-critical orientation


What realities and ideas shaped the way the source functioned or was understood in its day? Use your knowledge of those realities and ideas to analyze the source. Think about various contextual layers such as the goals of the author or artist, the experiences of their intended audience, the political context, intellectual, technological, religious, economic, etc. Different contexts are important for different sources.


Utilize quotes, paraphrases, or descriptions of the source. Explain what each quoted or described feature of the source illustrates; never let a quote stand alone; explain its significance. Clearly distinguish between your own statements and paraphrases of the source.


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