Class 08: Primary Sources

Due for Class

A primary source is a document or artifact created in the historical time period being studied. (Like that old handaxe we talked about during Class 6 or a work of literature like the Analects of Confucius.) For your projects, you’ll need to engage primary sources to provide visuals to your audience and to enrich your understanding of the time periods/places you’re studying.

The  purpose of this assignment is to give you some experience of what it’s like to read a primary source (we’ll just work with documents). You’ll think through what you’d like to know in order to understand the source better as well as what makes it difficult/easy to get a grasp on the source.

I will randomly assign each person a short primary source to read and reflect on. Assignments for primary sources will be distributed during Class 7. The links for all sources are below. I’ll have the reflection questions ready for you in a Google Doc by then too.

Reflection Questions

Primary Source Reflection Questions

Primary Sources

Each link will prompt you to make a copy of the document. You do not need to re-share the document with me. I encourage you to mark it up with questions and comments, too. This is a good active reading practice for all settings.

  1. Amos (excerpts)
  2. Birth of Hatshepsut
  3. Hammurabi’s Code of Law (excerpts)
  4. Lessons for Women (excerpts)
  5. Letters from Pliny and Trajan
  6. On the Customs of the Persians (excerpts)
  7. On the Tartars
  8. Letters from Hildegard of Bingen (excerpts)
  9. The Golden Chain
  10. Travels in Asia and Africa (excerpts)


Discussion of assigned primary sources & reflection questions in small groups and with whole class.

Begin locating primary sources of interest for your group project.


Class 08 Slides: