Module 1 Assignment: My Own Primary Sources

In this assignment, you will be introducing yourself using primary sources from your own personal history.


Step 1: First, briefly introduce yourself to your classmates in the discussion forum. Tell about why you are taking this class, your academic plans and goals, your background, interests, etc. If you’d like, you can write this introductory information inside of the discussion forum, or include it inside of your Voicethread presentation (covered below).

Step 2: Find at least three primary source artifacts from your own family history. These could consist of old photographs, letters, souvenirs from a vacation, heirlooms passed down in your family, or things from your parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents. Ideally, two of these things would be at least twenty years old and come from other members of your family (or support network), but if you do not have access to those older resources, you may share a more recent primary source from your own life. At least one of the sources should be from your own life—something about you that gives a little bit of insight into who you are.

Remember that primary sources are first-hand, original accounts or objects; they provide evidence about a person, place, object, or event. Primary sources can include records (like a census), oral histories (a story), objects, artifacts, letters, photographs, artwork, newspapers, diaries, inventories, or more. You can think of it as something you might see in a museum if there were to be a museum about your family.

Step 3: Follow the steps below to explain your primary sources.

  1. Describe the primary source. What is it, exactly? Imagine you are explaining it to someone who can’t see it.
  2. Make sense of it and describe its context. When was it made/used? Where is it from? Who used it, and what was it used for? What significance does it have within your family?
  3. Use it as historical evidence. What can you learn from this source? What other documents, photos, or historical evidence could you use to help you understand this event or topic in more detail? What other things are you curious about after looking at this primary source?

Step 4: Create a short presentation or video (between 2-5 minutes) showing off and describing your three primary source objects. Voicethread is the recommended program for this, though you can use any software you are comfortable with, such as Google Slides, PPT, Prezi, Animoto, etc. One great way to create the Voicethread is to prepare your introduction and primary sources as slides, then upload those slides to Voicethread, where you can add narration (as explained in this YouTube video). The presentation must include audio or video with you narrating your introduction, as well as visuals. If you can get a picture or video of the primary source, please share that inside of your presentation (though if you are unable to get a hold of the exact source, please describe it in detail or include a picture of something similar). Post the presentation or video in the discussion forum.

Step 5: Comment on at least one other classmate’s post, trying to make connections between their primary sources and other things you know about that same time period or to stories in your own family history.

Assignment Grading Rubric:

Criteria Poor Good Excellent Points
Introduction and Presentation Presentation is incomplete, missing pieces, or not completed in Voicethread or another similar program. Provides an introduction with some personal information and primary sources. Narration is included. Provides an introduction and utilizes Voicethread or another similar program to introduce personal background information as well as the relevant primary sources. The presentation is informative and easy to navigate. It includes audio or video. __/6
Primary Sources Does not include at least primary sources in the presentation or does not describe them or their relevance. Includes three primary sources and most of the descriptions, explanations, and context, though the explanations could be more detailed. Includes at least three family history primary sources that each have descriptions, an explanation, and context about what you can learn or glean from each source. These descriptions are thorough and demonstrate self-reflection and application. __/10
Comments and participation Does not engage in the discussion or comment on another post, or does so in a non-constructive way. Comments on another post. Kindly and thoroughly extends the discussion and comments on another introductory post. Response is substantive and respectful. __/4
Total __/20