These lessons may be adapted to use with any primary source transcription. Each of the four lessons provides instructions for teaching along with handouts and resources. Teachers may decide how they want to share the information/teach the students. Some teachers may want to create PowerPoints of the information or use Prezi or create handouts, etc. Although lesson 3 uses the Charles Wilcox Civil War Diary, this lesson can be adapted for any primary source.
Lesson 1 Primary vs, Secondary Sources
The purpose of this assignment is to help students distinguish between primary and secondary sources.
• 1 – 3 days depending on length of class and practice required for students to understand primary vs secondary sources
• Lesson instructions (2 pages)
• PowerPoint print out (7 pages)
• Identifying Primary and Secondary Sources (3 pages)
• The handouts and instructions are general enough to be used with middle school and high school
Lesson 2 Familiarizing Yourself with pre-20th Century Handwriting
The purpose of this lesson is to help students become familiar with copperplate alphabet charts, to provide strategies for reading pre-20th century handwriting, to share strategies for difficulties when reading the handwriting, and to practice transcribing primary sources.
• 2 – 4 days depending on length of class and practice required for transcribing
• Lesson instructions – Lesson 2: Familiarizing Yourself With 19th Centuey Handwriting (4 pages)
• Alphabet charts (4 pages)
• Commonly Confused letters (1 page)
• Things to Watch Out For (5 pages)
• Writing samples for students to practice transcribing (4 pages)
• Writing samples with transcriptions provided (7 pages)
• PGW Style Manual (14 pages)
• The handouts and instructions are general enough to be used with middle school and high school; you may choose to not use all of the handouts, depending on which samples you choose to use with your class(es). For examples, some handouts are very specific about transcribing handwriting that is difficult to read.
Lesson 3 Familiarizing Yourself with the Person or Event
The purpose of this lesson is to provide background information on the subject in order to provide the students with context before they begin transcribing the primary source.
• 1 – 2 days depending on length of class and practice required for reading the diary
• Lesson instructions – Lesson 3: Familiarizing Yourself With the Person or Event (2 pages)
• Newsletter of the Historical Society of Cheshire County (3 pages)
• Memo of Good Sent to Lieut Chas W (3 pages)
• Memo of Goods Sent to Lieut Chas W transcription (3 pages)
• Charles Wilcox’ diary (6 pages)
• Primary Source Transcription – Problems and Resolutions (1 page)
• The handout and instructions are specific to the subject of Charles Wilcox. If using transcribing another source, the teacher will need to provide background information for that specific subject.
Lesson 5 Fact vs. Interpretation/Inference and Perspective and Bias
The purpose of this lesson is to provide reference tools for students to use while transcribing the primary source.
• 1- 3 days depending on length of class and practice required for this activity
• Lesson instructions – Lesson 4: Fact vs. Interpretation, Perspective, and Bias (2 pages)
• Fact vs. Interpretation (1 page)
• Primary Source Transcription – Facts vs. Interpretation for recording while transcribing (1 page)
• Primary Source Transcriptions – Problems and Solutions to use while transcribing (1 page)
• Charting Places, People, and Events to use while transcribing (1 page)