Analyzing Sources

After Research: Analysis!

In History Fair, students become active "producers" of history rather than passive consumers by analyzing the sources rather than simply gathering them for the project.  For example, historical images are more than illustrations--they are evidence that will help you answer your historical question and develop your argument.  By analyzing each primary source and finding the connections between the sources, you will begin to make history.

Need help learning how to better analyze primary sources for evidence?  In addition to using CMHF worksheets, spend a little time on the website "Docs Teach". This interactive activity from the National Archives asks students to weigh the strength of primary source evidence for two opposing theses on popular U.S. history topics (Freedman’s Bureau, General Douglas MacArthur, etc.).  It models what students need to do with the sources they have found for their History Fair projects.

The History Fair Research Journey
Untangle the mystery of the History Fair Research Journey. This short Flash/Powerpoint presentation will get you started finding the evidence you need and building your case in no time.

Recommended Websites
Oh yes, the Internet. Historians may now gain access to collections that before were available only through a personal visit. The key is to approach the Internet strategically and locate the best sources for a history project. This guide offers tips and rubrics on smart use of the Internet: how to decipher a URL and evaluate a website for its credibility, properly cite websites in bibliographies--and find excellent websites for primary sources on Chicago history.

Legal Research for Chicago History Fair Students
The History Fair is an excellent opportunity to explore how the legal system offers both support and obstacles for individuals. By using this guide and asking for help, if needed, students can have fun finding cases of historical importance that were started by people in Chicago.

Tips for Contacting Experts
Historians, archivists, and other experts can be fantastic resources for History Fair students if students prepare well before making contact. The more work you put into preparing your project before you write or call the scholar, the more likely you are to receive a response and get the type of assistance for which you are searching.

Thesis Development
Research for and analysis of primary and secondary sources are conducted to help answer a student's historical question. The student will develop a thesis--an argument--based on the interpretation of those sources. Find activities, rubrics, worksheets, and link to websites to support the most crucial part of doing history.

The Final Product
Student historians present their work in articles, exhibits, documentaries, and performances. Find tips and guidelines to create projects that effectively and imaginatively communicate students' interpretations.

Here are some rubrics and guides to avoid the embarrassing and sometimes damaging practice of using another historian's words without giving proper credit.


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