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Women's Liberation, 1970- Teaching with Primary Sources

Analysis and Evaluation

Additional Sources

As an extension to this assignment, students or instructors can find additional materials from 1970 or create a timeline of events including things that happened on the Duke campus, in Durham, in North Carolina, the United States, and internationally in 1970.

Duke University Archives

These sources are all specific to Duke University's history and were published in 1970.

Overview of Activity

This activity highlights selected primary documents from the year 1970 across the Rubenstein Library’s collections representing a variety of viewpoints, issues, and historical events related to women’s liberation and feminist activism. Students will closely examine one document with a series of guiding questions in order to discuss and compare materials. Students will choose an issue represented in one of the items and work together to identify ways to research more about that topic.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to recognize and identify a variety of primary source formats available at the Rubenstein Library
  • Students will be able to describe and interpret a historical document
  • Students will compare and contrast sources from different points of view


  • Individually: read the assigned or selected document closely and make notes about your observations. Guiding questions are included on the document analysis worksheet.
  • In small groups (3–4 people): Each person will briefly introduce their item to the group. The group will then choose one of the discussion questions as a prompt to consider. (This can be done as an online breakout room or website discussion forum.)
  • Each group will share a few highlights from their documents and their conversations with the whole class, either through comments on forum posts or by an informal report at the end of the session.
Group Discussion Questions:
  • What did you find notable about the document’s message, author, or intended audience?
  • What do these documents tells you about life in 1970? Consider race, gender, geographic location, and/or age when you think about how different people experienced big events as well as everyday life in 1970. How does this compare to your own experience today?
  • Identify one topic from these sources that interests you. How would you begin learning more about that topic from sources created around the same time period? Where else could you find context about that topic, including related events and additional perspectives?
  • A single primary source sometimes raises more questions than it answers. What questions do you still have about the item you reviewed? Spend some time brainstorming with your group mates about how to find answers.