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Oct 21, 2023

Step 1: “Source” the source. Identify the creator, the date or time period, and, if possible, the purpose and intended audience. We also call this identifying the provenance of a document. Who created the document? When was it created? Why was the source created? Who was intended to see the source? Was the document public, private, or a secured government document? Step 2: Establish context. Use the sourcing information to describe the historical context within which the source was created. Use secondary sources and prior knowledge to do this. How does the creator of the document’s identity influence the content? What important events or struggles were taking place at the time? Which groups of people or institutions were involved? What experiences, ideas and/or values from that time period could have affected either the content of the document or the ways different groups may have reacted to the document? What was the cultural context of the event? How does place influence the information in the document? Step 3: Describe content. Describe the information presented in the source. If it is a visual, what do you see? If it is textual, does it contain facts, opinion, analysis? Does it seek to record, inform, persuade, challenge? What specific information, ideas or opinions are conveyed? Is there any information missing from the source that you might reasonably expect to see in it? Why might this be omitted? Does the content have different meanings depending on who reads it? Step 4: Make Connections. Analyze the source by drawing connections between the source (step 1), the historical context (step 2), and the specific content of the source (step 3). At this stage the goal is to develop an understanding of the historical significance and meaning of the source. Remember that each source is like a single witness’s testimony of the past. What understanding of the past is glimpsed through this particular viewpoint? Step 5: Evaluate the source. Engage the source with all the available sources – other primary sources, secondary sources, and your prior knowledge

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