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[Detail] An advertisement from The Minnesota guide. 1869

Historical Analysis and Interpretation

First person narratives also lend themselves to activities of analysis and interpretation based on the author's subjectivity. Look at two accounts of meetings with Abraham Lincoln, one by Jane Swisshelm in 1863 (found on the bottom of page 175), and the other by Sojourner Truth in 1864. Compare and contrast the two accounts using the following questions:

  • What is different about these two meetings? What is the same?
  • Who wrote these two accounts? How are the authors different and how are they alike?
  • Who is each author's audience?
  • What do your answers to the preceding questions suggest about each author's values and opinions, especially in regards to the subjects of their narratives?
  • How do the accounts reflect those values and opinions? To what extent do the accounts seem to be biased by them?
  • Do these accounts tell you more about Abraham Lincoln or their authors?
  • What information, events, and details does each include and exclude?
  • What kind of language does each author use?