ERIC Number: ED308105
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1988-Dec
Reference Count: N/A
The Use of Primary Sources in Western Public Culture.
Ziegler, Paul R.
A desire to make historical source documents central to the exposition of basic themes in a two-semester class on European and U.S. history since 1500 led to the development of a pilot course at Assumption College, Worcester, Massachusetts. One of the three weekly class meetings was devoted to a discussion of the source materials. In order to remove the traditional barriers that make such documents unappealing to students (i.e. lack of a historical context, archaic language), explanatory headnotes and a limited glossary were provided. Essay assignments were given which were designed to probe certain fundamental themes. The students, however, turned to the more familiar textbook for information and ideas. Consequently, efforts were made to focus the lectures and discussions more on the documents, and a preparatory exercise was added to the essay assignment. Although the program's purpose was to organize basic information prior to the writing of the essay, and its aim was to increase student usage of the source documents, students still tended not to use those documents. Eventually, it was only by incorporating the source documents directly into the preparatory exercises and essay assignments that a way was found of making it impossible for the students to avoid using them. It was hoped that students would develop a sense of historical method and appreciate how source documents could be interpreted in various manners to support different historical perspectives. (PPB)
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association (103rd, Cincinnati, OH, December 27-30, 1988).