The Student as Historical Detective: . Below is an example of an Historical Detective assignment for student use. Painting of John Brown

Step 1: Select a topic. Your topic is John Brown and his involvement in trying to abolish slavery. We have already learned about John Brown - the man, his involvement in the Potawaminee Massacre, and his attack at Harper's Ferry. Now it is time for you to conduct some of your own analysis by deciding if John Brown was a great man, or a failure.

Step 2: Select a thesis You have two choices:  John Brown was a failure, or John Brown was a great man. 

Step 3: Use a primary source to defend your thesis. You must examine several primary source documents and then pick one that you feel is THE MOST IMPORTANT in defending your thesis.

Photo of John BrownStep 4:  Use a secondary souce to defend your thesis. You must find one secondary resource – a book or article - that supports your thesis.

Step 5: (Optional) Use another primary and/or secondary source to test your thesis. Find another primary and/or secondary source that supports - or refutes - your thesis.

Step 6:  Reflecting upon your work as an Historian. This is perhaps the most important part of your research and your modeling. You must now reflect upon the thesis you selected. After you closely examined the primary and secondary sources, did they still support your thesis, or did they convince you to change your mind?