Documentary Primary Sources

In Research Assignment 2 you located monographs and journal articles, two kinds of secondary sources that you will use to learn about the historical roots of your chosen contemporary issue. In Research Assignment 3, you will continue to use topic-relevant sources to investigate the historical roots of your contemporary issue, but this time you will locate one primary source.

After you’ve completed Research Assignment 3, you will receive feedback in order to reassess your topic in light of your selected materials (both secondary sources from RA2 and primary sources from RA3), as well as comments on your initial thesis statement (answer to your research question).

Research Assignment #3 – Primary Sources & Annotated Bibliography

Question 1 = Documentary and Non-Documentary Primary Sources (15/100 pts)

For this question you will find at least one Documentary Primary Source OR one Non-Documentary Primary Source.

Documentary Primary Sources

Historical documentary sources can be quite useful as primary sources. Documentary sources include newspapers and magazine articles published during the historical period in question. For example, the Times of London will contain daily coverage of the construction, opening, and early use of the Suez Canal, which was completed in 1869.

While we might hope that documentary sources are free of bias, prejudice, etc., they seldom are. Indeed, that can make them all the more interesting. In order to locate a historical documentary primary source, you will locate a newspaper or popular magazine article written before 1990. Ideally, you have zeroed in or will use this opportunity to zero in on a particular time frame (1885-1914, for example) so your primary source ought to have been produced within that date range. You may also use historical government documents for RA3, and these are classified as documentary primary sources.

WSU Libraries has a number of databases to help you find full-text accessible documentary sources. To begin, go to Historical/Older Newspapers and select a database (left side box). Each database is different, so you’ll have to familiarize yourself with how to search each one of them. The Times of London and the Historical New York Times will likely be the most helpful.

Keep in mind that when searching for older material, words have changed. For example, you’re not going to find much on “nuclear bombs” in the pre-1950s press. However, you’ll find information on “atomic bombs,” because this was the more common descriptor of the time. Likewise, you may need to broaden the scope of your topic. For example, if you’re researching intellectual property on the Internet, you’re going to have to think about intellectual property law in the pre-Internet era. The point here is to be flexible with your search terms, and if one database does not yield fruitful results, try another one. As you’ve hopefully already learned, research is a trial and error process. [see Part III: Database Specific Video Tutorials and Part III: Documentary Primary Sources]

Non-Documentary Primary Sources

Non-documentary primary sources can be either print (diary, letter, speech transcript, interview transcript, personal papers, etc.) or audio/video (historical footage, historical film, music recording, recorded interview, etc.). Still visual images (maps, photographs, paintings, album artwork) can be primary sources as well, but you may only use them in addition to written or audio/visual primary sources for this assignment.

WSU Libraries has access to a range of non-documentary primary source materials in many disciplines, including history. Consult the Part III: Non-Documentary Primary Sources library guide for information about how to find this kind of primary source.

Start a heading: “Q1 – Primary Source.”

Using Purdue OWL Help Guide and/or Chicago Style Help Guide (notes/bibliography format), enter the full Chicago citation for your pre-1990 documentary or non-documentary primary source. Your citation will depend on what type of source you found. For example, if it is a book (sometimes called published primary), then you would use the appropriate bibliographic citation for books. If you’re accessing your primary source online (and not in print), the citation should include a URL and “date accessed” (see the Chicago-style reference page).

Question 2 = Create an Annotated Bibliography (70/100 pts)

You now have collected six sources related to your topic: one contemporary newspaper article (RA1), two scholarly monographs (RA2), two scholarly journal articles (RA2) and one primary source (here in RA3). If any of those sources need replacing so that your body of evidence is more relevant, do so before annotating!

Start a new heading: “Q2 – Annotated Bibliography.”

For Question 2, present EACH of your six items including the following information/format:

1. The bibliographic Chicago-style citation for the item, and…

2. In paragraphs of no less than six sentences, provide summaries of the main points provided by the source that are relevant to your research question addressed in each source. State how those main points are relevant to your project.

The six entries should be in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names. If any of your items do not have an author, use the title of the item to determine alphabetical order.

Question 3 = Research Question to Hypothesis / Thesis Statement (15/100 pts)

Start a new heading: “Question 3 – Hypothesis / Thesis Statement.”

Copy/paste or type your refined research question from RA2 into your RA3 Word doc (or, if you changed your topic, be sure to clearly explain). Next, in light of your integrated analysis (as presented in your annotated bibliography) of collected sources to this point, and comments provided in RA1 and RA2, type an initial hypothesis/thesis statement.

A thesis statement is an answer to your research question. Remember when you craft your thesis statement that it should: (1) clearly answer your refined research question (from RA2), and (2) require historical evidence to support it.

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