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Cuban Missile Crisis Day by Day

The purpose of this assignment is to use the historical record of the Cuban Missile crisis to analyze and interpret the severity and development of the events as they unfolded. This will require close reading of the primary documents of the time: memos, speeches, letters, phone calls, etc. Use the following questions to guide your critical analysis of these sources:

  • What is the source and what is it telling you?
  • Who is the author or creator?
  • What biases or assumptions may have influenced the author or creator?
  • Who was the intended audience?
  • What was the significance of the source at the time it was created?
  • Has the source been edited or translated, thus potentially altering the original intent or purpose?
  • What questions could be answered using this source?
  • What, if any, are the limitations of the source?
  • Does your understanding of the source fit with other scholars’ interpretations, or does it challenge their argument?

Source: "Using Primary Sources in Your Writing." Reference and User Services
     Association, American Library Association,
     history/resources/primarysources/using. Accessed 29 Nov. 2016.


Your analysis of the primary source might lead you to secondary research requiring you to do additional searches in secondary materials. For example, you might need to look up the official who is writing a particular telegram to learn about their importance. You might also look up in news sources of the time, Historical Newspapers Database for example, to see if your event/person/item was newsworthy. It is your job to cover the bigger picture!