North Carolina History Digital Textbook Project

Reading primary sources: Newspaper editorials

By Kathryn Walbert

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Reading primary sources: Newspaper editorials

Commentary and sidebar notes by Kathryn Walbert

Color drawing of a mother and child.

(Image source. More about the illustration)

On January 25, 1845, an editorial entitled “For What is a Mother Responsible?” appeared in the Carolina Watchman, a newspaper based in Salisbury, North Carolina. On the surface, the editorial explains what a mother should do in order to successfully raise her child. But a deeper examination of the editorial reveals a great deal more about the time and place in which the piece was written, as well as the editorial’s author (or authors).

As with any primary source document, the key to understanding the editorial lies in asking the right questions. This interactive guide steps through layers of questions, guiding the reader through the process of historical inquiry.

This edition is one in a series of guides on reading historical primary sources.