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Analyzing Primary Sources By Carrie Glenn

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1 Analyzing Primary Sources By Carrie Glenn
Letter to William Pond, A Letter to Father and Mother (March 1631) From the Massachusetts Bay Colony

2 What is the Difference Between a Primary and Secondary Source?
Primary Source examples: colonial charters, royal decrees, diaries, letters, wills, newspapers, novels, posters, muster rolls, legislative records, business records, etc. – written during the time period we study Secondary Source: Out of Many is an example of a secondary source, something written after an event or series of events have occurred

3 How to Interpret a Primary Source
A. Words: Google words you don’t know. B. Motives: Why was it produced? Author Audience C. Argument: What is the author’s main point? D. Assumptions Values (author or audience) E. Larger Story How does it relate to what we know? What does it NOT tell us?

4 Words and Phrases Cozen: cheat, swindle
Michaelmas: a feast marking the end of harvest season; author uses the celebration as a marker of time Hogshead: large cask Score: 20 It’s important to understand that until the late eighteenth century, Americans did not adhere to a standardized system of spelling.

5 Motives: Author and Audience Why was the source produced?
Who is the author? (Consider: ethnicity, sex, class, occupation, religion, age, region, race) Why did they create this source? (What is at stake for him/her?) Who is the audience? (Possibilities: the public at large, a private individual, a specific group of people) How does the intended audience complicate the source?

6 Argument: What is the author’s main point?
What are the needs of the colonists? How does the author describe Native Americans? What conclusions can we draw about colonial life in Massachusetts?

7 What does this source tell us? What are the young colonists’ needs?
“here is timber good store…and…fish” “the country is very rocky and hilly” “people here are subject to diseases” “we do not know how long we may subsist, for we cannot live here without provisions from old England…or else I should…a been half famished.” “meal…and cheese” “butter…and…malt” “…for we cannot live here without provisions from old England.” Scurvy: lack of vitamin C, causes spots, loss of teeth, fever, death

8 What does this source tell us
What does this source tell us? How does he describe the Native Americans? “a great part of them died this winter” “plague” “crafty, [cozen], cheat” “many go naked” “sum of them get Englishmen’s apparel” How does the author use clothing to distinguish Native Americans from English colonials?

9 European Images of Native Americans (1590)

10 European Images of Native Americans (1592)

11 Assumptions What values or points of view are reinforced by these sources? What is the tone? (desperation, praise, condemnation, patriotic, religious) Do they reflect the audience and/or the author? Values or points of view: reinforces imagery of America as a wilderness, Native Americans as uncivilized, difficulty in settling Tone: desperate, full of praise and love for his father, religious as well. The author is not optimistic about his chances of survival or that he will stay in America

12 Larger Story What are the limitations of this source?
(values/viewpoint/bias and “Who is the author?” questions: race/occupation/sex/region) Is this source reliable? Is it similar to or different from other primary sources? How does this relate to what we know about the early colonial experience? Themes? Limitations of the source? – does the author exaggerate in order to garner his father’s pity? What are the author’s biases toward the Native American population? Is the source reliable? – yes, it demonstrates a child asking his parents for help – something that most of us continue to do today How does the author paint a picture of colonial life?

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