History Methods | Prison Records

Course:  Craft of History: Fake News (Dr. Caroline Boswell)


  • Required course for undergraduate history majors with an enrollment of twenty-five students.
  • Historical methods course in which students learn the skills and methods of the historical discipline.
  • Course assignments were designed to teach students the basics of historical analysis by examining primary sources in a variety of formats and covering diverse topics. Examples include prison records, World War II propaganda, and House Un-American Activities Committee testimonies.
  • Collaboratively designed and taught by faculty, archivist, and instruction librarian.


  • Students were deeply engaged with the process of historical inquiry and methodologies. Discussions were thought-provoking and grappled with the concepts of saving and interpreting historical records.
  • Working in groups, students created presentations on a historical fake news topic of their choice. Students were tasked with incorporating primary sources and did so in meaningful ways.

“Such discussions [and experiences] help students understand that the heart of the historical discipline is interpretation, and that the choices we make—whether that choice is what to archives, what to research, or who we write for….has a significant impact on the world in which we live.”

Student Example: A Day and a Life for a Japanese-American during the US involvement in World War II