The process for approaching a primary source is similar to the close read of any informational text. In the case of handwritten historical documents, transcription and translation are also needed.

The process:

  • Teacher reads the text out loud as the students follow along
  • Students re-read the text in pairs, transcribing short sections in a joint Google document
  • Students translate their transcription into their own words
  • The class re-reads their translation of the entire document
  • Teacher guides discussion of parts of the text with a series of specific vocabulary and text-dependent questions and tasks

WORKSHEET: This handwriting analysis worksheet uses screenshots of the U.S. Census as a way to have students become familiar with historical handwriting using familiar words.   Handwriting Analysis

VIDEO: Example of Transcribing and Translating Primary Source Text (High School)