Historian | Digital Humanist | Instructional Designer
Hamilton: A Primary Source Reader
This collection of web-based primary sources was originally assembled for a lower division undergraduate course in early American history. The writing assignment asked students to investigate the historical events behind the acclaimed Broadway hit, “Hamilton: An American Musical.” Each song has been linked with primary sources connected with the historical events artistically rendered in each song from the play. This is an ongoing work in progress rather than an exhaustive archive.
2. ReadHamilton: The Revolution and select one song which you would like to investigate for this week’s writing opportunity. Familiarize yourself with the backstory behind your song and take detailed notes on how Miranda rendered a historical narrative into a work of performance art.
3. Analyze the primary sources connected with your song at Hamilton: A Primary Source Reader. Some documents are more challenging than others, so chose a collection that aligns with your skill level and area of interest. You must read all documents linked to each song.
4. Write an essay of 350-500 words which answers the following question:
What is fact and what is fiction in Miranda’s “Hamilton: An American Musical” and why did Miranda take certain artistic licenses? Make an argument explaining WHY and HOW art can reveal new historical insights about the American Revolution that empirically based documentary history cannot. Your essay should compare Miranda’s theatrical rendering of historical events to the primary sources, and draw on evidence from Hamilton: The Revolution to explain why Miranda made certain artistic choices. Support your argument with direct primary source quotations from the musical, Hamilton: The Revolution, and primary sources from Hamilton: A Primary Source Reader. In your conclusion, reflect on the limitations of rendering history as art and consider why it is important to recognize the distinction between historical fiction and historical fact in popular representations of American history.