Draw on a personal context or experience, analyze how that context or experience has influenced you.
You will learn:
What is a primary source?
A primary source contains firsthand accounts of events. The primary source was either recorded as the events took place, or remembered later on by someone who experienced them. A primary source can be in any format: a paper document, a video, a piece of clothing, or any other item that can teach us about the event it documents.
How do you use primary sources?
Scholars and students use primary sources to research past events and individuals. Primary sources provide a different kind of information than a journal article, or other secondary source, because they were created by people who experienced the event, rather than a later person who studied the event. For this reason, primary sources are thought of as better capturing the spirit of the moment in which the event occurred.
When you read a secondary source, the author may have already analyzed primary sources to come to their conclusions. When you examine a primary source, you create your own analysis. Approach a primary source as though it were a book: it has more information than what you first observe when looking at it. Consider the meaning behind the image, document, or object and what that could represent.
Here’s the original letter this image comes from: https://digitalcommons.usm.maine.edu/fac-lpg-1947-10-12/35/
Here’s an analysis I did of the above snowshoe club logo:
How did I get my answers?
1. Name of collection
A set of materials related to an individual, group or institution is called an archival collection. A collection can be named the John Smith Collection, or the John Smith Papers, depending on the content of the materials. Typically, in this case, “collection” refers to materials assembled from a variety of sources, and “papers” refers to the personal papers created by an individual or family.
How do you find the name of the collection? Use the above link, and scroll down until you see the below image:
The collection name is circled in blue. When using the Franco-American Collection’s Digital Commons, all collection names can be found in the “recommended citation” section.
2. Date created, if known
The date on the original letter is 1947. However, that doesn’t mean that 1947 is the date the logo was first used. For this reason, the answer is N/A, or “not applicable.”
3. Author or creator, if known
Take a look at the image, the name of the club, “Les Hirondelles,” is written at the top of the logo. We know that the logo was created for Les Hirondelles Club, but we can’t tell from the image any information about the original artist. Therefore, we can use the name of the club as the creator in this instance.
4. What does knowledge of the creator tell you about the logo?
We know that Les Hirondelles is a snowshoe club, due to information in the letter, and the snowshoes shown in the logo. What does that tell us about the logo? Why do clubs create logos?
5. Give a physical description of the logo, what colors, images and words does it feature?
Highlighted below are the 4 sections of the logo: The club name, the crossed snowshoes, the bird, and the motto. At the very bottom is the city the club was located in, Lewiston, Maine.
6. How do you think looking at a digital version of the logo compares with seeing it in person? What information is lost?
Would seeing or touching the letter and logo in person provide you with more information than you have now?
7. What keywords would you use to describe it? What words or phrases would you type in a library or Google Search for this object?
Start with a few broad keywords such as “Snowshoeing,” and “Snowshoe Clubs.”
These may end up being too broad, so you can narrow your search by location: “Lewiston-Auburn clubs,”or by creator: “Les Hirondelles Club.”
Make sure you also search for translations of the club name and the motto.
8. Why was it created? What was its original purpose? What makes you think so? Support with evidence if possible.
Why was it created can be supported by our answer to question 4.
Why are logos created? Where have you seen logos in the past, and what did the logos mean, or how did they influence you? Identification? Advertising? Can you think of any other reasons?
How would the logo have been used?
9. Who was the intended audience? What makes you think so? What is the relationship (if known) between the creator and audience? Support with evidence if possible.
Was the intended audience members only, non-members only, or both members and non-members? What makes you think so?
10. What type of authority does this artifact have: subject expertise, special experience, societal position of creator? How can you determine its credibility as a historical resource?
Whom do you trust to give you information? What authority or expertise do they have on the subject that gives you reason to trust what they say? “Authority” refers to the credibility of the source as an accurate representation of historical events or individuals. Who an authority is changes based on what you want to know.
Three forms of scholarly authority are:
Right now, you, as a person who is living through COVID-19, are a special experience expert on COVID-19 as a lived experience, but someone in the medical profession working on a vaccine would have the authority of subject expertise. You might be a great primary source for someone who wants to know what it was like in Lockdown, while the medical professional might be a better source for someone who’s looking at the virology of COVID.
We can see from the letter that Les Hirondelles logo was used to identify the club, and the use of official club stationary with the logo suggests that the club was recognized in the community as having expertise in snowshoeing. This means that the authority the club has is that of both subject expertise and societal position. Due to the club’s involvement in the snowshoeing community, they also have the authority of special experience, as they participated in snowshoe events and interacted with community leaders involved in snowshoeing.
How could you determine the credibility of the logo as a historical resource? Would you use it to identify other Les Hirondelles memorabilia? To learn more about the club’s history?
11. What questions does it leave you with? What do you want to know more about?
What information do you feel you are still missing? Ask those questions here.
12. What research question could you formulate that this item could be used to explore? What other types of primary sources might you find related to this topic?
Use the questions you thought of in question 11 to develop a thesis question you could use in a research paper. Consider what other primary sources you would use for that research paper.
Is there any extra information you can learn from viewing the whole letter, rather than just the image?
Before giving the analysis a try for yourself, remember, approach the logo image as though it were a book: it has more information than what you first observe when looking at it. Consider the meaning behind the imagery, and what that could represent.
Now you try: FAC Logo Analysis Form BLANK
Check out the link to the original source here: https://digitalcommons.usm.maine.edu/fac-lpg-1947-01-03/24/
This Digital Commons record includes information about the original letter this logo came from, and that can help you learn more background information. Take a look at the letter, and see what questions you can answer, or if you have new questions after reading.
What happens when you can’t answer a question?
That’s ok, sometimes when you examine a primary source you don’t have all the background information. It’s OK to leave some questions blank, or to answer them with more questions. This is all part of the research process.