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Landing at Ellis Island, 1902

[Detail] Landing at Ellis Island, 1902

Lesson Intro

NOTE: This handout may be printed out for use with Port of Entry activities.

Port of Entry: Immigration

Handout 2: Analyzing Primary Sources



Title of Document:

As you analyze a primary source document, keep these questions in mind. You may write your answers on this handout or on another piece of paper.

  1. Who created the source and why? Was it created through a spur-of-the-moment act, a routine transaction, or a thoughtful, deliberate process?
  2. Did the recorder have firsthand knowledge of the event, or did the recorder report what others saw or heard?
  3. Was the information recorded during the event, immediately after the event, or after some lapse of time? How large a lapse of time?
  4. Was the recorder a neutral party, or did the recorder have opinions or interests that might have influenced what was recorded?
  5. Did the recorder wish to inform or persuade others? (Check the words in the source. The words may tell you whether the recorder was trying to be objective or persuasive.) Did the recorder have reasons to be honest or dishonest?
  6. Was the source meant to be public or private? Was it produced for personal use, for one or more individuals, or for a large audience?