Paper One Instructions and Sources: (Hyde 1493 040 – Fall 2018)

The first paper is an analysis of primary source documents that is worth 100 points and must be uploaded to your GTA’s Canvas page by 8 PM on Friday Sept. 21. The paper should be approximately 1000 words (3-4 pages). Students will write a paper using the provided collection of primary source documents on Reconstruction. This paper (Paper 1) will teach you how to use historical sources and how to frame a historical argument using evidence from those sources, both essential for your longer research paper.

Paper One Sources

A short essay based on the set of five primary sources provided on the Canvas site and available for download here:

“Excerpts from The Black Codes of Mississippi” (1865)

Cite as:  “Laws of the State of Mississippi, Passed at a Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature, held in Jackson, October, November and December, 1865.”

“Jourdan Anderson to his old master” (1865)

Cite as: “Jourdan Anderson to P.H. Anderson, Aug. 7, 1865,” Reprinted in Lydia Maria Child, The Freedmen’s Book (Boston: Tickenor and Fields, 1865), 265–67.

Frederick Douglass, “What the Black Man Wants” (1865)

Cite as: Frederick Douglass, “What the Black Man Wants,” (Boston: Geo. C Rand & Avery, 1865).

Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

Cite as: United States Supreme Court, Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, Decided May 18, 1896

Booker T. Washington, Boley: A Black Town In Oklahoma, (1908)

Cite as: Booker T. Washington, “Boley, A Negro Town in the West, 1908” Outlook (4 January 1908), 28–31.

Choose three of the five primary sources listed above. Based on your reading of these three sources: Discuss the meaning(s) of freedom during the long era of Reconstruction.

Details, Requirements, and Deadlines

  • This paper is worth 10% of your final grade and the in-section homework for the paper is worth 2%.
  • It is due at 8:00 PM on Friday, Sept. 21, 2018.
  • The paper must be turned electronically to the appropriate Canvas dropbox for your discussion section. Hard copies are not necessary.
  • It should be approximately 1000 words (around 3-4 pages in 12-point font).
  • Your essay must have a title that reflects your core theme or argument.
  • Proofread your paper carefully to avoid spelling and grammatical errors.
  • Late papers will automatically be deducted 25% of the final paper grade. Papers that are more than 5 days late cannot be accepted.
    • (If you must turn in a late paper, talk to your GTA ahead of time.)
  • You must include footnotes and a bibliography in Chicago Manual of Style. See the Citation Guide at

Writing the Essay

The ExploreHistory web site features tutorials to help you with the following essential elements of a strong paper:

Developing a Claim or Argument: A strong argument goes beyond simply reporting what you found in the documents; it uses the evidence to broaden, qualify, or even contradict our understanding of an important theme in U.S. history. Your thesis may emerge gradually as you wrestle with your documents in early drafts. In your finished paper, however, feature your thesis in the introduction.

Working the Evidence:  Most of a history essay should consist of “evidence paragraphs,” which develop and support the thesis with quotations and/or paraphrasing from the sources. Each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence that connects to your thesis. Quotes need to be set up: who said it, when and why. After you quote, always explain using the Chop, Blend, and Digest model we’ve shown you. Check the quoted material carefully to ensure that your quotations support the points you are making. Cite your sources when you quote.

Structuring the Essay: As your paragraphs begin to emerge from this process of working the evidence, unify each one with a topic sentence, and arrange them in a sequence that builds toward your strongest claims. Your finished essay should be easy to follow as you develop a strong point with evidence in each of your body paragraphs and, finally, to your conclusion.

More detailed instructions on the paper are available on the course website: