History 52-Essay Assignments-General Explanation

Specific Assignments  for Primary Source Essays at Modules/ ETUDES

1) Context: In addition to reading and discussing primary readings for class there are three 4-page essays that require you to examine and evaluate primary sources. You will remember that a primary source is one that originates at the time an event is happening, and a secondary account is a historian's interpretation and understanding of the event. In order to analyze and evaluate a primary source you will first need to do some background reading. Each primary source from Voices of Freedom is prefaced with a short introduction that will also correspond with material that you are reading in the textbook. Be sure to read both the textbook assignment and the preface to the specific document before reading the actual primary source itself. When you are doing this background reading pay close attention to the description of the event as well as to the important names, places, and terms. If you do not understand the context of a source it will be impossible to explain and analyze it correctly.

2) Carefully read and analyze the primary source- After you have completed reading the context, you should read through the primary source once, than go back through the source a second time using the questions that I have given to you as a framework for organizing your analysis. Read my questions, then read the primary source carefully looking for answers to the questions that I have assigned. Mark up the source, underlining or highlighting what you think will be the relevant portions of the source that you will use.

3) Write the thesis-After reading through and examining your assigned source, write a one sentence statement that lays out the main point or thesis of your paper. A thesis statement is not a restatement of your topic or a summary of the reading; it is a specific point that you will develop in your essay and that is supported by the evidence. Your essay should be like a lawyer going before a jury. You will present the main idea (the thesis) followed by the evidence that supports this main idea and tries to convince the jury (or the readers) that your thesis is correct. The questions that I give you about the source will direct you to the main points that should be addressed by the thesis and the essay as a whole. The thesis statement should be on the top of the first page of your essay followed by the outline which the next step.

4) Organize an outline-After formulating a thesis re-read the questions to be answered in the essay and organize a short topical outline that uses the questions as the main topics. The outline should use correct outline format with Roman numerals for the main topics and capitalized letters for the subtopics. Do not write paragraphs for the outline, save the writing to "flesh out" the topics in your actual essay. The thesis statement and the outline provide the framework for your essay and should be submitted on the first page of your essay so that I can see how you have organized your work.

5) Write the essay- After completing your thesis statement and outline, begin your essay with an introductory paragraph that introduces the topic and also includes the thesis statement (that will give the reader a clear idea of the main focus of the essay). The introductory paragraph will be followed by at least five to eight body paragraphs that follow your outline and "flesh out" or answer the questions that have been incorporated into the outline. The body of the paper will be followed by a conclusion that summarizes your essay and reinforces the thesis.

6) Make transitions-The body paragraphs of the essays must be connected with appropriate transitions. Do not simply answer the first question with paragraph one followed by question two in the second paragraph. Make transitions that lead the reader from one paragraph to the next. "Connect" the two paragraphs together into a unified essay that centers around and supports the thesis. Use the introduction and conclusion to do the same-fit the essay together and support the thesis.
7) End the essay- End the essay with a conclusion that summarizes the main points of your paper. Be sure to keep the paper focused on the thesis and to write, simply and clearly, your interpretation of this source.

8) Citing Sources-Each of the sources that you read for your essay (including the textbook) must be cited. That means you have to tell the reader the source of your information. On the last page of your paper list both the primary and secondary sources that you used. The sources should be listed using the Chicago Style format. If you have questions about how to do this see the Harbor College Library website-Writing and Research Guides for further help.


9) Plagiarism- Essays must in your own words. Use the secondary readings for background only. Do not directly quote from the secondary sources, paraphrase if necessary. Any quotations that you use should be short and to the point. (no more than a sentence long) Your essay should be at least four pages (size 12 font, double-spaced) long. The outline and thesis will be another page. At least 99% of those pages should be your words.

10) Submitting the Essay-The thesis, outline, essay, and works cited page must be submitted together to turnitin.com. I will not grade an essay if any of the four parts are missing.

Copyright Dr. Ellen Joiner 2015