A&HE 4058 (2)

 Making Meaning of Primary Sources through the Social Studies Lens

Approach 1: Text, Context, Subtext

Text: What is this document (letter, speech, newspaper article, etc.)? Was it public or private? Who was the author? the audience?

Context: When and where was it created? What do you already know about that place and time? What questions do you have about that place and time?

Subtext: What is the purpose of this document? What was the author's intention? What did s/he say without saying it?

If you are excerpting from a lengthy source, consider making multiple versions so that each level of readers works with a length that is manageable. Group students by reading level and provide each group the source they can best manage in the given amount of time. Even if you reduce a document to the most important paragraph, the students are still working with the authentic text, not a paraphrased version.


Approach 2: National Archives written source analysis guide. They offer many different guides.

Abolitionists were not part of a single unified movement. They endorsed varied strategies and goals. Below are just two of the many people dedicated to the cause of abolition. Use the analysis guide to make meaning of one of the sources. When you are finished, identify the key excerpt which gets to the heart of the document to share with someone who read the other document.

William Lloyd Garrison, "Sonnet to Liberty"
Frederick Douglas, "The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro

Notice that both documents include pictures which can help a student access the text.


Approach 3: Partner (Dialectical) Reading


Your Turn: Practice with Lincoln's 2nd Inaugural


Considering Going Forward:

My responses to your questions

Using Visual Texts:

Literary and Historical Text Pairings:

Blogs I Recommend: (I will continue to compile resources here)