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Primary Source Analysis: Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

Primary Source Analysis
What is a primary source? It can be defined as anything created by someone involved in an event, about the event. For example, it could be a diary or a picture. The following URLs will take you to places on the web that discuss primary sources:

"Identifying Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources." William Madison Randall Library at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington
"Using Primary Sources on the Web." American Library Association's Reference and User Services Association
Note that, with the current technology, primary sources can be digitized and presented on the web for viewing and analysis. And while there is no substitute to holding the actual source and studying it, we cannot always make the trips required to view and study them. So having digital copies becomes a helpful means of viewing primary sources.

The National Archives has created document analysis worksheets to help you work with primary sources. They are available online at

The worksheets consist of a combination of checklists and short-answer questions that will help you focus on the most important elements of different historical documents. You will use the information you gather on the worksheets to report on your primary sources.

1. Find three primary sources (any type for which there is an analysis worksheet) on your chosen topic. Your textbook can give you a good start, either with reproductions of such sources or reference information to help you locate a given source. There are also a number of websites such as those of the Library of Congress and the National Archives that contain digitized copies of primary sources.

In addition, Google Book Search has digitized thousands of older books and magazines that would make good primary sources, and The New York Times archives search includes many free articles written between 1851 and the early 1920s. Check the UMUC Information and Library Services databases in the library's Guide to History Resources: Click on the Primary Source" tab along the upper part of the screen.

2. For each primary source you find, create a separate entry that includes all of the following information:

a full citation (as you would put in the bibliography) for where you found the item (remember to use Turabian/Chicago style)
the type of primary source (e.g., written document, cartoon, photograph, and so on)
a summary of the information based on the information collected using the primary analysis worksheet
an explanation of how the item pertains to your topic.

Solution Preview

Primary Sources concerning the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

Firstly, as far as the directions go, it's pretty clear that you just need to cite and explain primary sources. While I cannot actually cite the sources for you per se, I can give the locations, to a number of the best primary sources, the citation format, and a brief rundown of each.

Secondly, as far as content ideas go, for resources, you might find these helpful or appropriate:

- Gettysburg Address: -- as I'm sure you know, this document chronicles the deliberate assertion of freedom and the historical precedent for continuing the nation as a whole, because otherwise the country will soon cease to exist or thrive.

- A number of possible primary documents related to everything from ...

Solution Summary

The solution assists in identifying primary sources of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln.