U.S. History Primary Document Analysis Worksheet

Historians analyze primary documents – original sources produced during an historical time period – to make sense of the past and to craft historical arguments.


Access the document analysis worksheet located in this folder. It is adapted from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and is designed to guide your thinking about primary documents.

Choose ONE primary document to analyze from Chapters 15, 16, 17, OR 18Foner’sVoices of Freedom Document Reader. Be sure to pick something of interest to you! ((( USE ANDREW CARNEGIE, THE GOSPEL OF WEALTH 1889))))

Use the NARA Written Document Analysis Worksheet to analyze this document. Complete all parts of the worksheet.

If you have the capability to type your answers directly into the worksheet then do so (it is a Word document). If not, type answers in a separate Word document (save as .doc or .docx. Please note that my computer will NOT read .pages documents).

Submit your answers to the Primary Document Analysis Dropbox in this folder by 11:55pm on the assigned due date (see syllabus and MyCourses calendar).



Directions: Answer all questions. Write a 4 sentence (minimum) response to questions 3 through 5E unless otherwise noted. Provide at least ONE citation from the document in each of your answers. Use in text citations at the end of the sentence in which you include quotations (Foner, Voices of Freedom, 541).

Document title: __________________________________

1. Type of document (check one)

_____ Letter

_____ Report _____ Map

_____ Newspaper _____ Political cartoon

_____ Speech or public address _____ Advertisement

Other (describe) ___________________________________________________

2. Original date(s) of publication________________________________________

3. Author (name & description – include author’s race, class, gender, and position – i.e. were they a politician, journalist, housewife, etc.Cite information from the Foner, Give Me Liberty! textbook and/or the Foner, Voices of Freedom Document Readerin your description. Use in text citations (Foner,Give Me Liberty, 223; Foner, Voices of Freedom, 541) at the end of the sentence in which you cite material). Comment on how these factors might have influenced their thoughts expressed in the document.

4. For what audience was the document written?

5. Document information

A. List 3 of the document’s most important points. Explain why the points are significant.

B. Why was the document written? What is the author’s main argument?

C. What evidence in the document helps you to determine why it was written?

D. What historical event(s) does this document refer or pertain to? Why is it relevant to that event?

E. Write a question to the author that is left unanswered in the document. (minimum one sentence required)

This worksheet is an adaptation of one designed and developed by the National Archives, Washington, D.C.