History with Documents Reader

Your History with Document Reader will allow you to demonstrate your skills as a historian crafting a digital public history resource that addresses a major issue in the history of U.S. – Latin American relations or the history of the Latin@ diaspora. This assignment will allow you to show your appreciation of the diversities of cultures and historical experiences in the Americas.  How you frame your historical question (chronologically, geographically) and the approach you take are up to you.  You will present this work as a WordPress site.

Document Reader Components

Primary Sources

For your document reader you will assemble and write short critical introductions to ten to fifteen primary sources that represent the complexity of thinking about your question.  You need not limit yourself to written primary sources: you may include photographs, song lyrics, artwork, and maps, among other sources.

As in all document readers, it important for you to think carefully about how to present your primary sources.  How much do you need to excerpt to give your reader an accurate view of the ideas presented in the source?  Historical questions are seldom interpreted with a single voice.  Do your sources properly reflect the debates and varying perspectives surrounding your issue?

Contextual Essay

One task of historians is moving from a diversity of sources to a compelling narrative of historical events.  You will present your primary source collection with a 1500-2000 word contextual essay that presents your synthesis of how the sources you analyze fit together.  Taken together, what do these sources reveal, and what is their larger historical significance?


The work you do for your annotated bibliography will be the building block for this analysis. For your 750-1250 word historiographical essay, you will not just mine scholarly accounts for background information, but instead analyze secondary sources to enter into the historiographical debate surrounding your research question.   You need to incorporate your thoughtful analysis of at least three major secondary sources (whether books or articles) into this essay.

Supporting Materials

The front page of your site will have a research abstract and digital timeline highlighting the chronology of the major events relevant to your topic.

Your project will also include at least ten discussion questions for your audience to keep in mind as they read, and a bibliography with suggestions high-quality digital resources.

Revisions Memo:

Your revisions memo (uploaded to Moodle as a pdf) should summarize the suggestions for revision you received from your professor and peers.  How did you incorporate these comments into your revisions?  What strategies did you employ to improve your History with Documents’ structure, argument, use of evidence, and clarity?  Your digital communication?


Kristin L. Hoganson’s America Empire at the Turn of the Twentieth Century reader is one model for this type of project, and I have several additional document readers that you are welcome to examine.


In evaluating this assignment, I will consider the strength of your historical analysis as well as your writing ability and digital communication.  Your project must be well organized, logically presented, and clearly written.  I expect you to incorporate feedback from your initial drafts and Pecha Kucha presentation into your final project.

Key document reader project dates:

  • Timeline JS Workshop on Friday, February 14
  • Research Proposal due on Wednesday, February 26
  • WordPress Customization Workshop on Friday, March 6
  • Peer review of Contextual Essay & list of 10+ primary sources Friday, April 3
  • Peer Review of Historiography on Wednesday, April 15

Final Project (posted on Voices) & memo explaining your approach to revisions (uploaded to Moodle) due by Tuesday, May 5 at 9am.  (25% of your course grade)