Primary Source Analysis

Due date: Friday, February 9, 2018 by 5 p.m.

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For this assignment, you will analyze a single primary source about encounters between Europeans and Native Americans and place it in its historical context.

You should choose one of the following:

  1. Thomas Morton Reflects on Indians in New England, 1637
  2. Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca Travels through North America, 1542
  3. A Gaspesian Indian Defends His Way of Life, 1641

Once you have selected and read your source carefully, write an essay in which you explain what the author of the source was saying and explain how this source relates to our discussions over the first several weeks of the course. In other words, what can we learn about the early encounters between Europeans and Native Americans from reading this particular source?

In order to do that, you should do the following:

  1. Include at least two quotations from the source that help illuminate its meaning.
  2. Compare the source to at least one other document we have read this semester from Reading the American Past.
  3. Compare the source to at least one reference from a class lecture or discussion.
  4. Compare the source to at least one reference from The American Yawp.


  • Your essay should be between 500-750 words, excluding notes.
  • You must cite all of your sources, quotations, and references. You may use a citation system of your choice (Chicago Manual of Style, MLA, or another), but you must be consistent.
  • You may not use any outside sources for reference or evidence. However, you should include a note at the end of the essay indicating any sources you used to look up the definitions of words or the identities of people or places with which you are unfamiliar.
  • The essay must represent your own work.
  • I will not read full drafts of essays, but I would be happy to discuss a thesis statement, outline, or brief paragraph.