Columbus State University Archives

Suggested Assignment

This assignment is meant to provide familiarity with both digital and print primary sources beginning with guided research by use of worksheets and independent research with tactile contact with the past inside the Archives with the student producing a final paper on their research.

Part 1:

Select a source from the list of digital examples from the Digging in the Archives "Examples of Primary Sources from the CSU Archives" page.

After selecting a source, look at it carefully and complete one of the relevant primary source analysis worksheets.


Part 2:

Select a source from the list of print examples from the Digging in the Archives "Examples of Primary Sources from the CSU Archives" page.

After selecting a source, visit the CSU Archives and spend time becoming familiar with the items. Carefully analyze the sources you are looking at and write a 750-1000 word paper.

Sample Guidelines for Writing the Paper

The structure of your paper should follow the standard format of introduction, body, and conclusion. Write the essay as if the person reading the paper is not familiar with the topic. Specifically, students need to:

  • Provide a title which indicates what you plan to focus on in your essay (don't simply state the name of the document at the top of the cover page).
  • Identify/introduce the name/title of the document/collection that is the focus of the essay in the introduction.
  • Focus the body of the essay on the analysis of the document and how it relates to a broader issue.
  • Conclude the essay by explaining what conclusions we can draw from reading/analyzing this document, i.e. what it teaches us about a particular time period or issue.

Use of Quotations

Students are required to incorporate at least three direct quotes from their primary source documents (students who choose non textual sources such as photograhps or maps may include quotes from secondary sources). Direct quotes should be placed in quotation marks and accompanied by a footnote.

Students should provide direct quotes in their essay in cases where:

  • Firsthand testimony conveys the author's thoughts or feelings about a particular issue that would lose meaning if summarized.
  • Firsthand testimony uses unforgettable or memorable language and would lose meaning if summarized.
  • Conciseness. It would require more words to summarize, instead of providing a direct quote.

Tips for Good Writing

Good writing doesn't just happen. It's hard work. Sitting down the day before your assignment is due usually produces a final product both poorly written and analytically weak. Plan to write your essays over a period of a several days. It is important to give yourself plenty of time to write and revise the assignment. The following is a list of suggestions:

  • Do not over quote your sources; selectively quote from your sources. If more than 10-15% of each page is a direct quote, you are quoting too much.
  • Visit the Writing Center on campus or have someone you know proofread your assignment such as a parent, a friend, or a classmate. Ask the proofreader whether your essay makes sense. It is easy or difficult to read? How could you make difficult passages/sentences more clear? Does your reader understand what you are trying to communicate?
  • Proof your essay for typos and misspellings.

Bibliography & Footnoting

Students are required to include a bibliography page that includes all of the sources (both primary and secondary) used to construct the essay. In addition, remember to appropriately footnote throughout the body of the text, including direct quotes, ideas or information that you obtained from either a primary or secondary source.