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After you have read and considered the guiding questions, you need to begin a careful analysis of the data. There is no right or wrong answer in this assignment: instead, you will be graded on how well you support your conclusions. The paper should be no more than three pages, double spaced. Here is a general guide to writing a history paper.

It’s often useful to begin by considering if anything you found was unexpected. Were you surprised by anything you found—or didn’t find? Historians pay special attention to these “gaps” between what we expect as “normal” and what we seem to find in the material. Some historians argue that the past itself is a foriegn country, with very strange and different customs. Consider those things that surprised you—what can you conclude from them?

Next, you might try looking for patterns. Did the things which surprised you tend to repeat? Were there other repeated patterns? It’s worthwhile to make a list of any patterns you notice. Can you see any relationship among these patterns? Is there a connection between them?

Finally, consider whether there has been any change over time. Did you notice anything different in the last set of ads? If so, what did it mean? Your goal here is not just to report what you see, but to try to figure out what it means. You should feel free to speculate, as long as you have evidence. Here is a guide to using historical documents.

Below is a typical ad. Roll your cursor over the highlighted text to see some of the things a historian might notice.

Philadelphia, December 6, 1774.


FOR any person or persons, who shall apprehend a certain Francis Villaneuse, a French runaway servant, by trade a hair dresser, about 5 feet 5 or 6 inches high, swarthy complexion, black hair, tied behind, and speaks but bad English; had on, which he went away, a beaver hat, a Wilton suit of clothes, a good deal powdered, the breeches almost new, light blue worsted stockings, new shoes, brass knee and shoe buckles; he took his dressing utensils with him, and may endeavour to pass for a freeman; he having runaway about 4 or 5 months since, when he had procured a forged pass. Whoever secures said servant, so that his master may have him again, shall receive the above reward, and reasonable charges, by applying to HUGH HENRY, in Chestnut street.

Your paper should have a thesis, a conclusion you have drawn about runaways. It should suppport that thesis with evidence drawn from the information in your database. It needs to be more than the obvious, more than something like "most runaways were men." You should try to be as precise as possible and to take account of any change that occured over time. When you are describing or quoting from the evidence you have found, you must give the source in a foot or endnote.

Here is an example.

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