Civil Rights Movement

Fink, Stephanie, and Mathew Laubacher. “Historian’s Toolkit: Using Sources in the Study of History: Primary,
Secondary, and Tertiary.”
While history is vast, historians can only analyze small fragments of it as we hope to gain a better
understanding of change over time. The most fundamental sort of evidence we have is primary sources from
the period, which provide historians clues to solve historical questions. Thus, history can be thought of as a
puzzle, albeit one with numerous lost “pieces.” The goal of a historian is to put as many pieces (sources)
together as possible, and through analyzing them within their historical context, offer interpretations of their
In other words, historians have to investigate and understand the context of each of the sources used in their
work. It is only after understanding this context, including assessing how the source fits within the larger body
of work on the topic (the historiography), that a historian can analyze it to help answer the larger question at
hand. Thus, your job in this class is to develop the ability to understand the historiography of your topic, which
is a key part of the larger project historians set out to do in their work.
Prepare: Read
Tosh, John. The Pursuit of History: Aims, Methods and New Directions in the Study of History (6th ed.).
Chapter 4: The Raw Materials
Chapter 5: Using the Sources
Fink, Stephanie, and Mathew Laubacher. “Historian’s Toolkit: Using Sources in the Study of History: Primary,
Secondary, and Tertiary.”
Fink, Stephanie, and Mathew Laubacher. “Historian’s Toolkit: Relevance and Currency in Historical Research.”
Fink, Stephanie, and Mathew Laubacher. “Historian’s Toolkit: Notetaking and Active Reading: The Chicago
Manual of Style.”
Lowe, William C. “HIS 378 Reading #2: Primary SourcesPreview the document.”
Lowe, William C. “HIS 378 Reading #3: Secondary SourcesPreview the document.”
Reflect: After reading through the materials presented in this Learning Activity, reflect on your topic choice for
the Final Paper.
How do you understand the key questions historians are seeking to answer about this topic based on your
readings thus far?
Have you identified any “must read” sources about your topic?
Have you identified any specific kinds of primary sources that historians investigating this topic tend to
analyze?
Write: In order to help you prepare your final research paper, this week you will be starting your library
research. For this learning activity, use the library to find a scholarly secondary source (a scholarly article from
a peer reviewed journal, a scholarly book, or a chapter in a scholarly book)

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