General History


History 1212: History of Europe II

Primary Source Analysis


Prepare a short primary source analysis of 2 pages which explains and interprets the assigned primary source using the PAPER acronym as its guide.

The PAPER acronym guide was assigned reading in week 2. It is available on Carmen and at this link:…

Students will complete one out of the eleven possible primary sources over the course of the semester. The response is due the Sunday of the week that source is assigned.

For example, the analysis of Source 5.2: Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen, August 26, 1789 is due on Sunday, November 26 at 11:59pm. The analysis of Source 9.2: Jules Ferry, Speech on Imperialism, July 28, 1883 is due on Sunday, October 24 at 11:59pm.

If the student is unhappy with their score on the Primary Source Analysis, they may complete one additional Primary Source Analysis of a source assigned in a later week. The lower of the two scores will be dropped. (Please note that completing a second primary source analysis is not an option if one waits until the final primary source (Source 15.5) in order to complete this assignment for the first time.)

Expected Learning Outcomes

Students think, speak, and write critically about primary and secondary historical sources by examining diverse interpretations of past events and ideas in their historical contexts.

Students construct an integrated perspective on history and the factors that shape human activity.


The Primary Source Analysis will explain and interpret the assigned primary source using Patrick Rael’s “How to Read a Primary Source” as its guide. Instructions for this assignment include the complete prompt (here in the content section), and the rubric for writing your response paper (below in the evaluation section).

The Primary Source Analysis is an opportunity to practice a fundamental skill that historians use all the time: the interpretation of primary sources from the period under study. Primary sources are important windows into a particular moment in the past. Through this exercise, students will practice interpreting what the primary source has to say and contextualizing that source alongside other course content.

Please read the primary source assigned for the week in which you wish to complete the assignment.

Then write a two-page response to that primary source organized around the five elements in Rael’s PAPER acronym. That is, the first paragraph should be about the Purpose of the source, the second about the Argument, the third about Presuppositions, and so on. (A separate introduction paragraph or conclusion paragraph is not necessary.)

Each of the five paragraphs should meet the following four aims:

include a topic sentence that explains your argument for the paragraph,

answer two of the questions posed for that particular element,

(for example, the Purpose paragraph will respond to two of the questions posed under Purpose in Rael’s PAPER guide)

use relevant evidence from the assigned source to support your answers,

(you may use quotations, paraphrase, or summary; in all cases, cite your sources using the Chicago Manual of Style)

and explain through analysis how your answers to the questions align with the evidence presented.

In all cases, paragraphs should present the student’s claims, relevant supporting evidence from the source, and analysis that explains how the evidence supports the student’s claim. For a guide to writing in this manner, see:…

Before turning in the paper, please proofread for clarity and organization. A successful paper will be clearly organized and compellingly written so that the reader can follow the student’s reasoning throughout the paper. Please be sure to proofread for typographical errors, grammatical errors, etc.

The final paper should be 2 full pages of text (not including the student’s header on the first page), but not more than 3 full pages of text, with 1-inch margins, double spacing, and page numbers. The font should be Times New Roman (or comparable), size 12.


The Primary Source Analysis will be assessed according to the attached rubric (30 points possible).


If you have any questions about this assignment, please contact Prof. Bond (bond.282), or your assigned GA, Rob Matina (matina.2) or Justin Salgado (salgado.32).

If you are interested in more support for your writing, The Writing Center offers a range of online services:…

For all questions, I am happy to meet during office hours or by appointment at a mutually agreed upon time. I want you to be successful.

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