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Module 3: How to use primary sources

Step 3: The Context
When and where was it created?

Another thing a historian immediately does is to figure out when a document was created. It is important to be able to place the creation of the document on a mental timeline in relation to the events you’re researching.

Knowing the place a document was created is another aspect of understanding the context in which the document was created. Try to figure out, with as much specificity as possible, where it was created.


p. 4/8


This message was sent on Dec. 18, 1940, from the sender in Champaign to the recipient in St. Louis. To be more specific, it is likely that Molly Jean telephoned Western Union from the sorority house to request the telegram .

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