CWRGM & Evaluating Primary Sources for Your NHD Research

January 11, 2024
Iowa State Historical Building, Des Moines, Iowa

National History Day (NHD) Iowa program coordinator Hanna Howard and Civil War & Reconstruction Governors of Mississippi co-director Dr. Lindsey R. Peterson hosted a workshop attended by Iowa middle schoolers on finding and evaluating primary sources for their NHD research. In the morning session, Peterson worked with students to transcribe a handwritten document and identify primary sources in digital archives like CWRGM. Peterson offered students approaches for evaluating primary sources for perspective, connection to the topic, theme, and argument, and the source’s limitations. Then using emancipation during the Civil War and Reconstruction as a sample topic, the group collectively practiced these approaches using the Emancipation Proclamation and Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Working with CWRGM’s letter, students then broke into smaller groups and critically evaluated primary sources on emancipation and its limits and identified new resources in CWRGM’s collection that they could incorporate into their research. Finally, they workshopped how to use these primary sources to revise their thesis statements. In the afternoon, the workshop was joined by representatives from the State Historical Society of Iowa to introduce students to using physical archives.

Thanks to the generous support of the NHPRC, workshop attendance and lunch were free-of-charge for students.