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Assignment | Texas HIST 2301 Primary Sources (Strohmeier): Primary Sources

Fall 2019 | Prof. Strohmeier | HIST 2301

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What Are Primary Sources?

A primary source comes directly from the concept or people in question. Primary sources give us direct glimpses into how people thought and felt at the time. A few possibilities include:

  • Diaries, letters, manuscripts, autobiographies 
  • Speeches
  • Photographs, drawings, and other creative works
  • Sound recordings
  • News footage and newspaper articles from the period
  • Artifacts like clothing and furniture
  • Original research reports and lab notes
  • Laws, statutes, and court opinions

Why Primary Sources?

Primary sources build key learning skills

  • Develop critical thinking skills
  • Provide greater understanding of topics being studied
  • Allow you to come to your own conclusions
  • Develop grounding in history to better question what has been or is being said about a topic/event

Potential Topic Prompts

The question prompts and resources listed are somewhat interchangeable. Don't hesitate to experiment with an information source not listed directly beneath the question prompt.  Many of these resources will have primary sources as part of the overall content of the page. Some of the sources will be strictly images or articles.
1. Why do you think that agriculture remained the cornerstone of the Texas economy in the late nineteenth century even though so many Texans wanted the state to industrialize?
2. The early twentieth century is often described as the lowest point in the history of race relations in the United States. Explain why this either does or does not hold true for Texas.
3. What parts of the New Deal appealed most to a majority of Texans? What parts of it did many Texans oppose? How do you explain that opposition?


  •  LOC Primary Sources for Texas
    • Contains historic artifacts and cultural materials from across the U.S.
  • History Study Center
    • HINT: Search Texas in the title and use a keyword like: "new deal"
  • West Texas Digital Archive
    • Over 100,000 unique historical photographs, newspapers, yearbooks, letters, oral histories, periodicals, manuscripts, journals, documents, maps, audio/video files and more pertaining to the history of west Texas.
4. Most historians believe that World War II did more than the New Deal to end the Great Depression. Does the experience of Texas in the 1940s support this argument?
5. Describe the political gains achieved by women and minorities in Texas in the 1960s and 1970s. How did these gains change party politics in the state?
6. The oil “bust” of the 1980s had far-reaching economic as well as political effects on Texas. Describe those effects, both short-and long-term.

Additional Sources