Historical analysis is a method of the examination of evidence in coming to an understanding of the past. It is particularly applied to evidence contained in documents, although it can be applied to all artifacts. The historian is, first, seeking to gain some certainty as to the facts of the past.

A historical analysis essay is a paper written to table arguments proving a particular thesis. The arguments are based on history and should prove insight by using both primary and secondary historical sources to prove the essay’s thesis statement.

For this assignment, you are a budding historian, trying to make sense of some aspect of the history we cover in this course.

You should survey your textbooks primary sources. They are typically included at the end of the chapters, though you will also find some included in the chapter text.

For your assignment, you will include at least two (2) but no more than three (3) primary sources from the textbook for class.


Please choose at least two (2) but no more than three (3) primary sources from your textbook to write a historical analysis paper.

You can use any material that we have read/watched in class as secondary source material. If you do use any of that material, you must cite the ideas or quotations using footnotes.

Before writing the analysis of the sources, come up with a research question that the sources will address. Include the research question in your essay.

CAUTION: The goal is to write a cohesive essay – not  individual source analysis paragraphs. Make the sources speak to each other. Put them together to draw a larger conclusion.

Write a three to four-page (1,000-1,250 word) historical analysis that CAN INCLUDE the following:

– Describe the document/source. Who wrote it, when, where? Do you know who the author is by name? Do you know the race, age, or gender of the author?

– Why do you think the author wrote the document? What was the author’s motivation for writing? Did s/he have an intended audience? Can you discern any particular characteristics about the audience?

– What kinds of conclusions can you draw from the sources?

– What do we learn about the time period in which the documents were written?

– Do the experiences that are described in the documents relate to history that we will discuss in class? Please use the  course textbook American Yawp as secondary sources to help with this question.


You must include references for material taken from primary and secondary sources. All references should follow MLA guidelines.