Over the course of the Realist period we have reviewed and analyzed many primary source documents – primarly very important, formal documents and speeches such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s “Declaration of Sentiments”, Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech and Fredrick Douglas’ speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”. These documents are very effective in achieving their purpose through their careful use of language and rhetoric. However, how do less formal primary source documents still teach us about the issues of race, war, and equality in 19th century America?


We will be analyzing three documents that are less formal – diaries and letters. Below you will find a link to the documents for your class. Remember, as you read and analyze these documents ask yourself the following questions:

  1. How do these documents different from the more formal primary sources in their discussion of issues such as race, war, and inequality?
  2. Does the speaker or writer’s awareness of their audience change their style, and if so, which is the more honest primary source – one that is created for a specific purpose, or one that is an informal reflection of events and feelings?
  3. Which is more effective – formal or informal primary source documents?


Click here to access 1st block’s sources.

Click here to access 2nd block’s sources.