Primary Source Assignment

Primary Source Assignment:

Total Marks 100

Paper Length: 3-4 pages (Times New Roman, Font Size 12, Double Spaced). You will be penalized for exceeding 4 pages. The minimum required length is 2 pages.

Cover page is optional. Paper length does not include list of references, or any supplemental material on the source. For details on citation please check the syllabus.

Finding a Source:

The first step is to find a source that interests you. You have the freedom to choose anything that appeals to you. It could be a letter about inoculation, or an account of a patient suffering from AIDS, or a doctor’s notes on Malaria. It doesn’t have to be limited to what has been covered so far, or the diseases in the syllabus.

There is a video on primary sources that has been attached already on ONQ. Here is a link from the Queen’s library about what primary sources are

If you are still confused, please feel free to show it to me.

The first paragraph of your paper should be on the reasons behind choosing the source. So, choose your source carefully. Also, briefly describe the details of the source, like date, location etc.


Once you have your source, you will then analyze it. The rest of your paper should focus on analyzing it. The analysis will depend on the kind of source you are using, but it has to address some basic issues.

  • Who is the author of the source?
  • What was their purpose of producing it?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What was the socio-political backdrop when the source was produced?

Depending on the source you have, you can then discuss the unique features of your source. For example, if you know the gender and race of the author, you can demonstrate how the source reflects this. Finally, you have to sum up the limitations of the source.

Don’t worry if you can’t find answers to all the questions. The nature of your source will determine the course of your analysis. These are guidelines to help you frame your paper. Do not hesitate to ask your instructor or your TA if you have any questions.

Where to find primary sources:

The Queen’s library database is a good source

National Library of Medicine:

Gilder Leherman Archives:

Life Magazine Archive:

Smithsonian Source:

I am providing you with a rubric to help you with the paper, but I will repeatedly remind you that the grading will depend on the type of source you are using.

Tentative Rubric (A lot will depend on the kind of source you are using)


Grade Range Introduction Analysis Conclusion
A+ to A Should do two things clearly, establish the details of the source and clearly explain why the source was chosen. Besides answering the basic questions, it is important to demonstrate the significance of the source. The ways in which it can help understand the historical narrative


Pointing out the limitations of the source or summarizing the paper.
A-to B While it still serves the same purpose, the reasoning for choosing the source Less stress on focusing on the bigger picture but too much in-depth

analysis. (Please note,

The limitations of the source are not mentioned clearly.


is slightly weakly argued this is a guideline, it will depend on your source). In some cases, a detailed analysis may be welcome and you

may get A.

B- to C Weak reasoning. For example, I chose the source because it seemed interesting. You answer only the basic questions, and say very little about larger historical


Almost nothing on limitations, just a brief summary of the paper.
Below C No introduction, just a brief description of the source. Only answer the basic questions and offer no historical

context at all.

No defined conclusion.


Looking for this or a Similar Assignment? Click below to Place your Order Instantly!