Style format: 12 point font, double spaced lines, one inch page margins, no extra spaces between paragraphs, indented first sentences of paragraphs. A bibliography is unnecessary if you use footnotes or endnotes. You do not need to provide a title page. 

Write a 3-5 page paper that makes an argument about the historical significance of one of the primary sources from The Cruel Years 

Your paper should have an introduction where you articulate this significance claim as the paper’s thesis statement. This thesis statement should explain as specifically as possible how the source either 1) supports, 2) adds to, or 3) challenges one of the arguments in the secondary source assigned on the same day as the primary source. For instance, if writing about the primary source for “An African American Woman: Surviving the South”, the significance claim would explain how that text supports, adds to, to challenges arguments in the secondary source (Franklin, “The Era of Self-Help”, Chap. 13 in From Slavery to Freedom). 

A good test of whether your thesis is sufficiently specific is if it answers a how or why question. If, for instance, your thesis states that a primary source adds a “personal” or “emotional” perspective to our understanding of a particular topic in U.S. history, but doesn’t explain how or why, then it is incomplete because it is not sufficiently specific. 

To prove your thesis in your paper requires demonstrating an ability to summarize and analyze a primary source, as well as summarize and analyze at least one argument contained in a secondary source. Failure to do both of these things will make the paper incomplete. 

Your paper’s body paragraphs should therefore have three parts: 1) summarize the primary source in its entirety, 2) summarize the secondary source in its entirety, and then 3) demonstrate how or why the primary source supports, adds to or challenges the secondary source argument that you’ve described. You may present each section in any order you like. Each section may be one long paragraph, or can be broken into multiple paragraphs organized around particular topics. Each body paragraph must begin with a topic sentence that summarizes the subject of the paragraph. Each body paragraph must also present evidence— in the form of a quote or information drawn from assigned reading— to support its claims.

Your summary and analysis of the primary source should include the following: the name of the person (if it is provided), roughly what time period the story covers (if it can be discerned), what places the story describes, what topics the story covers, and what argument(s) you believe the author is making. As part of your description, you may want to consider the role of work in the person’s life; their experience of economic, racial, citizenship, and/ or gender inequality; their views on what kind of country the U.S. is and their place within it; and how they’ve responding to difficulty or pain. These are potential subjects—you are not required to cover all of them. Your summary of the secondary source should include the author’s name, the book’s full title, the date it was published, and a summary of its main argument or arguments in the chapter or sections that you read. Your demonstration that the primary source supports, adds to, or challenges an argument in the secondary source should contrast the two texts. 

Your paper should have a short conclusion. The conclusion presumes that you have already proven your argument, so you don’t have to restate it. Instead, it identifies the potential significance (or implications) of your argument. Implications can include (but do not have to be limited to): the value of studying primary sources to understand history, the value of studying the particular topic you wrote about, questions about 19th century U.S. history deserving greater study, or the potential relevance of 19th century U.S. history to understanding something about the present. 

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