Explore the creation of your own primary source, which should give you some indication of the significance of many moments in American history that we’ve dealt with in this class, as well as give you a valuable resource for your own family’s memory.
As the final project in this class, I’m asking you to explore the creation of your own primary source, which should give you some indication of the significance of many moments in American history that we’ve dealt with in this class, as well as give you a valuable resource for your own family’s memory.
The interview should include the interviewee’s biographical information, i.e. date of birth and place, parents’ origins and occupations, interviewee’s early childhood memories, schools attended, and career choices.
What are the most memorable American history events that happened in their lifetime? These could include but are not limited to:
John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinations
Apollo 11 moon landing
fall of the Berlin Wall
9/11 terrorist attack
Ask their favorite, and least favorite American president during their lifetime.
Ask about changes they observed in their lifetime in gender equality and roles, race relations, and gay acceptance.
Ask about the evolvement of technology in communication, private and public transportation, household appliance, and information access.
Finally, ask them about cultural changes in society they have witnessed in public etiquette, clothing, music, and lifestyles.
The interview paper should be at least 6-8 pages in length and double-spaced typed.
Primary sources are the raw materials of history — original documents and objects that were created at the time under study. They are different from secondary sources, accounts that retell, analyze, or interpret events, usually at a distance of time or place.
Bringing young people into close contact with these unique, often profoundly personal documents and objects can give them a sense of what it was like to be alive during a long-past era. Helping students analyze primary sources can also prompt curiosity and improve critical thinking and analysis skills.
In analyzing primary sources, students move from concrete observations and facts to questioning and making inferences about the materials.
Primary sources help students relate in a personal way to events of the past and promote a deeper understanding of history as a series of human events. Because primary sources are incomplete snippets of history, each one represents a mystery that students can only explore further by finding new pieces of evidence.
Ask students to observe each primary source.
Encourage students to think about their personal response to the source.
Inquiry into primary sources encourages students to wrestle with contradictions and compare multiple sources that represent differing points of view, confronting the complexity of the past.
Encourage students to speculate about each source, its creator, and its context.
Ask if this source agrees with other primary sources, or with what the students already know.
Primary sources are often incomplete and have little context. Students must use prior knowledge and work with multiple resources to find patterns and construct knowledge.
Questions of creator bias, purpose, and point of view may challenge students’ assumptions.