Close Reading Interpretation of Lincoln Documents

To fully utilize primary documents for the interpretation of historic events, it is important to examine the sourcing, consider contextualization, and closely read the content.  These approaches are good strategies for students of history and are the basis of the Stanford History Education Group’s “Thinking Like a Historian” initiative.

The videos below model close reading of important Lincoln documents.  The content of each letter or speech is broken down into smaller chunks and the phrasing is closely analyzed for meaning and context.  Students can use these as examples for their own work with historical documents.

Click the Youtube video box to begin each video.


Lincoln Response to 1864 Re-Election Nomination


Lincoln Response to 1864 Election Victory Serenade


Lincoln Letter to Sherman on Capture of Savannah