Choosing Relevant Primary Sources

Choosing Relevant Primary Sources

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For the last two weeks, you have been searching and doing your background reading using “secondary sources” learning more about your assigned chronological period in American history. Hopefully, you have also gained a sense of the ways in which questions, issues and possible clues about happiness are connected to your period.
In order to make sense of the various “periods” of American history that you are considering during your work in this course, you will need access to some good general US History reference materials, in print, online, or both.

No doubt, there are hundreds of college-level American history texts and resources to which you can turn. The key is that you have found one or two that you can rely on and that you will regularly use throughout this course. As you will see, gaining background knowledge will be essential for the investigations that you will carry out during the term.

Examples of such a text include The American Promise: A History of the United States (volumes 1-2) by Roark, Johnson, et al., Who Built America? Working People and the Nation’s History (volumes 1-2) by Clark, Hewitt, et al., or A People and a Nation by Norton, et al. For those students who do not already have access to such a text, the Norton text (A People and a Nation: Brief Edition) is optionally available for purchase from the Empire State College bookstore. You might also have access to other college-level history texts at home, or in a local library.

In addition, you may find the following websites useful when seeking to understand more about a specific period of US History:
Given what you have learned so far, and given the research sources provided in History Matters, identify five primary documents that seem relevant to the questions about happiness that have become of special interest to you.

Keep in mind that there are probably three steps that you will take:
1.After thinking about your period as a whole, identify events themes, people, topics in which happiness and/or well-being has either explicitly or implicitly been raised or addressed.

2.Once you have those themes or questions or events in mind, consider which collections in U.S. History Matters might contain one or more primary sources that connect to them in some way.

3.Search within those sites for at least five relevant primary sources. (You won’t interpret these until your next assignment.)

Note: the five primary sources you choose should have come from at least two different sites. Of course you should look at more than two sites, and you probably will, but ultimately your primary sources should come from at least two online sources.

To complete this assignment, you should post the URL links to the five primary sources that you have chosen. As in the previous assignment, for each source, you should include one or two sentences describing why you have chosen this particular source.

Note: in all probability, the instructor will not open up each of the links that every student has posted, but rather will review one or two of your links to see if you have indeed begun to locate some relevant historical sources. It will be through your interpretation of those documents (in the next assignment) that your instructor will gain a clearer understanding of the connections you are identifying between the documents you have chosen and happiness.

If at any time in this process you get stuck, please don’t hesitate to click on “ask a question” at the top of this ANGEL window. There may very well be other students who have similar questions on their minds so the response to your question may be helpful to others, too

Note: As you do your research on your primary sources, your questions about happiness may change. That’s a good thing! Again, we are not assuming you are beginning as an expert, nor that after you spend four weeks investigating the period that you will come out being an expert. What we do know is that through your reading, you will be better and better able to pick up themes, names, and events that might lead you to further investigation (that is, to raising more and clearer questions) using primary sources.

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