Primary source assignment | History homework help

Primary sources give us an excellent idea of what people in a given time period were producing and periodicals in particular (like newspapers produced daily or a magazine produced weekly or monthly) can provide us a greater sense of the everyday cultural conversation compared to “high art” highlights we find in paintings and novels.

These everyday voices are numerous – so numerous it can feel overwhelming once we start to research them.

This assignment aims to bring the everyday voices of the primary sources found in the periodicals of 1900 in a manageable way and in a way that helps us pool our resources as a class.

Your assignment is to find one primary source from a single periodical of the period. Eligible primary sources include any single, original article, e$$ay, short story, poem, illustration, or photograph published in a periodical between the years 1895 and 1905.

Students should begin their search for a primary source early in the semester. Please note: Artifacts we have already covered in the modules may NOTbe used for this assignment – I’ve found those for you! – this assignment is for you to do your own research.

The following are good quality archives of important periodicals in the U.S. published during the years eligible for this project.

It is not an inclusive list; other major newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post, or the Chicago Tribune for example also offer online archives dating back to the same time period.

Scientific Americanhttps://archive.org/details/scientific-american-1845-1909 (Links to an external site.)

The Century: http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/c/cent/cent.html (Links to an external site.)

Ladies’ Home Journal: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/000059808 (Links to an external site.)

Saturday Evening Posthttp://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/serial?id=satevepost (Links to an external site.)

Harper’shttps://harpers.org/archive/ (Links to an external site.)

*Archive seems now restricted to subscribers, but you may access via Hathi Trust, links complied by UPenn: https://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/serial?id=harpers (Links to an external site.)

The Atlantic Monthlyhttp://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/serial?id=atlantic (Links to an external site.)

Remember, this time period meant many aspects of American life were segregated, including publishing. A selection of newspapers published by and for African Americans c. 1900 may be accessed here: 

https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/?state=ðnicity=African+American&language (Links to an external site.)

Consider also using the Library of Congress’s Chronicling America project created in conjunction with the NEH (the National Endowment for the Humanities) – here is a sample search of the eligible years and the general topic of ‘Native American’ yielding more than 15,000 artifacts (!) : 

https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/search/pages/results/?state=&date1=1895&date2=1905&proxtext=native+american&x=0&y=0&dateFilterType=yearRange&rows=20&searchType=basic (Links to an external site.)

Explore the search function on your own by keeping the date field the same and altering the subject and/or state of interest.

Once selected, students should make or download a good quality copy (print or digital) of the source and begin familiarizing themselves with the artifact in detail as well as learning at least a little about the context of the periodical where it appeared.

Students are responsible for completing a one-page annotated bibliography for their chosen primary periodical source.

An annotated bibliographic entry includes 1) the full MLA citation information for the original primary source (NOT just the database you found it in but the full citation for the source itself), 2) an overview of the source content, 3) a statement of the source’s historical, cultural and/or artistic significance, and 4) at least one key quotation, passage, or illustrative detail that demonstrates this significance. 

Length should be one full typed page in MLA format. There are three different annotated bibliography resources posted right after this assignment in Canvas – please use them.

Upload a PDF or Word file of your annotated bibliographic entry via the Turn It In link below.

Later this week you also will be asked to post an image of the original primary source you selected on the discussion forum so that we all can see each other’s research. (You will not post your written annotated bibliography.)

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