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Guide to Understanding Historical Letters - DRAFT
Questions compiled by Grade 5 teachers from OUSD American History Grant
for classroom use when using primary source documents.

1. When was this letter written?

2. Who wrote it?

3. To whom was it written?

4. Where was the letter sent?

5. Why was the letter written?

6. Why might a historian find this letter interesting?

7. What does the letter tell you about life during this time period?

8. How is this letter different from letters we would write today?

9. Who would NOT have written this letter?

10. What questions does this letter make you wonder about?

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/lessons/psources/pshome.html
The Historians Sources- students learn about different types of primary sources used by historians and other scholars (including Questions for Analyzing Primary Sources) Students practice analyzing primary sources by focusing on documents about slavery in the United States before the Civil War.

http://www.archives.gov/digital_classroom/lessons/analysis_worksheets/worksheets.html
Document Analysis Worksheet (National Archives - Digital Classroom)

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/features/timeline/index.html
American Memory Timeline - resource to help teachers locate relevant primary source documents from Library of Congress collections.

http://www.gliah.uh.edu/historyonline/lesson_pl.cfm
Online lessons & handouts on US History using excerpts from various primary sources.

http://www.learner.org/channel/workshops/primarysources/
Primary Sources: Workshops in American History Topics relate to programs from Annenberg/CPBs instructional series A Biography of America.

http://jefferson.village.virginia.edu/vcdh/jamestown/firsthand.html
Virtual Jamestown : First Hand Accounts & Letters