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Source Investigator Worksheet

An important part of being an historian is acting as a detective and investigating your sources before using them in a paper. In this activity, you are the detective! To use a source effectively, you will need to understand everything you can about it, including author, the relation of the author to the subject he or she is writing about, what the source says, and so on.

Answering these questions below is an important first step in writing your final paper!

Part I: Primary Source Investigation!

Instructions: Choose one of your primary sources and answer the questions below in your own words. With the exception of Question 1, all answers should be at least 100 words.

1. What is the name of your source and when was it produced? The Nashville Daily Union published : 2/17/1863

2. Who was the author/creator of this document and how is the author related to the event he/she is writing about? There is no specific person listed as the writer in this article only that is was publish by an Association of Printers, at the date of the piece being publish they writers seemed to cover everything from court proceedings to what was delivered to the local general store for purchase. They even went so far as to publish the names of police officers who working what hours, writing about military resolutions also publishing about sales on flour for cooking or baking and about new laws being passed. So for me it seems they are a well- rounded and dependable source for news stories in the Nashville area.

3. How credible is the author on his/her subject and what are some potential biases the author may have had? While I believe the write to be credible, I also believe that there could be a lot of potential for biased writing. I am not sure if in those days people were able to really keep their thoughts or feelings totally impartial in their writing. After looking over some of the info contained while some or close to all of it may be the law or policy on slaves, it also seems that there is some added in from the writers point of view on what could happen to people who tried to help slaves ect. I believe some of those feelings could be form not knowing how the writer actually felt about slavery, if they were for it then they would make sure and make it seem that there was very harsh punishments ect awaiting anyone who assisted slaves, while if they were against slavery then it may not have been so harshly worded.

4. List three things in the document that are important to your topic’s focus. #1- No one could give any type of fake paperwork or certificates saying a slave was free, or give anything else to a slave that may help them escape their master. #2- No one was allowed to conceal or hide away any slaves or try to convince them to leave their masters and then provide them any type of protection for runaways. #3- It was against the law for any master to actually free his own slaves and allow them to remain in the state. The only way a slave could be freed was with permission of the state because they did not want slaves freed and the “turned loose” on their communities. So if a master did get permission to free his slaves he would have to make arrangements for them to leave the state once free.

5. Why do you think the document was written? To me it seems this article was written to make people in the area of Nashville aware of the new laws and policies in place about slaves. Also what the laws were if you tried to help them or free them, or if they were runaways and what the punishments could be if they were found out to have any hand in trying to help any of the salves with almost anything from paperwork, freedom, pretty much any kind of assistance that they could have needed at the time. I think they made it pretty clear that they believed in slavery and that anyone who thought different was out of line and was in a place that believed in giving out as severe a punishment as possible to any who thought that way.

6. How will this source contribute to your paper’s focus? I think while it is not very lengthy document as some might hope for when it comes to research, it gives a lot of very useful and important information to the readers. Reading it now in 2016 it has made me aware of so many things I have never known or heard about before. It tells how strongly they believed in slavery in those days and to me helps strengthen the need and belief for the Underground Railroad and the people needed to help make it possible for the slaves to make their way to freedom they rightly deserved

Part II: Secondary Source Investigation!

Instructions: Choose one of your secondary sources and answer the questions below in your own words. All answers should be at least 100 words.

1. What is the name of your chosen document? On the Borders of Slavery and Race: Charles T Torrey and the Underground Railroad

2. Who was the author of this document and why is the author qualified to write about this topic? The author of my source is Stanley Harrold. I believe he is qualified to write on the subject of the Underground Railroad because he has done many years of research and written many books about not only the Underground Railroad but also on abolition, and the struggle of people who were slaves in the civil war era, and even on slavery before the war. He has spent many years researching his chosen topics, papers and books and is a Historian along with teaching history at the University of South Carolina. His focus has always been the anti-slavery movement and the Civil war.

3. What historical event/topic is the author writing about and what is his/her main argument? Stanley Harrold is writing not only about the Underground Railroad and Charles T. Torrey who was a white abolitionist that most people today have never even heard of, but also about how Torrey had the courage to not only cross just the actual Mason Dixon line but crossed a line in cultures as well. He talks about the great risks involved with what Torrey was driven to do by his beliefs and how someone can breakdown not just physical barriers but racial ones as well. Torrey spent most of his life helping slaves to attain freedom.

3. List three things in the document that are important to your topic’s focus. Charles Torrey met Thomas Smallwood whose wife actually did laundry for Torrey’s land lady, Smallwood had actually managed to arrange getting introduced to Torrey without anyone knowing that was his plan. He knew that meeting with Torrey would allow him to help other slaves, and together they were thought to have started the Underground Railroad in Washington.
Torrey stayed for a while in Albany,NY after helping slaves make their way to Canada and was able to find other like minded individuals that helped fugitive slaves get to Canada.
Charles Torrey and Thomas Smallwood while helping slaves escape would taunt the fugitive slave masters with information on what their escaped slaves were doing.

5. How will this source contribute to your paper? I think this paper by Stanley Harrold will help in my writing for this paper because he shares so much information on not only the Underground Railroad but also focuses on people who did things day to day to help make the Underground Railroad a reality in many ways. It is so easy sometimes to leave out or forget parts of what make up our history, but this paper shows many factors and people who went through devastating times in their lives and what others did to try and help them and show them compassion and a new way to live their lives with the freedom to do for themselves.…...

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