Annotations vs. Abstracts
Abstracts are the purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author’s point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.
What is an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. Annotated Bibliography Below are some suggestions in helping you write your annotated bibliography. This document will be posted on the web and part of your yearlong project. It covers an overview of recent (since 1990) scholarship on the topic you have selected and it deals with primary, secondary, and other resources which have been useful to you over the past year.
Classroom books will be useful as well. Thus providing your commentary and insights it becomes more valuable to fellow teachers who may use the material or modify the material. In the suggestions area I have listed important elements that should go into your comments. Thus you have provided a “value added” beyond simply a list. Your valuable experience as a classroom teacher helps to make American history more meaningful in engaging both your students, to other teachers and students who have seen your work on the web. So in that spirit of cooperation and high standards, I offer this model to you. Your list will be more extensive.
I have simply listed some of the types you will encounter in putting together your list. Suggestions for Writing Annotations Content Purpose Usefulness Reliability Authority What is the resource about? Is it relevant to your research? What is it for? Why was the book or article written? What does it do for your research? Is the information accurate? Do other sources support the conclusions? Is it written by someone who has the expertise to author the information? What are the author’s credentials? Currency Ease of use Is it new? Is it up-to-date for the topic? Can a “real person” use this resource? What is the reading level of the resource?
Sample Citations and Annotations (Below are examples, but creatively made up) Website example (with no known authors) “How We Survived Camp Living” Revolutionary War Camping. 12 Oct. 2008. 25 Oct. 2008 This site provided basic information about camp life. It does raise some important issues about gender and status that may be useful for the classroom. It is a commercial site rather than an academic site, so it provides some insight into the clothing that was used and may be useful for supplies. The impression I had from the title of the site was that it would have primary documents. It does list some primary sources. In general, I would not use this site in my research paper unless I could corroborate the information with another more trustworthy source. I accessed this resource through Google.com. The search terms I used were revolutionary camping and camp life in eighteenth century.
Article example (with known authors)
Adams, Samuel, John Adams and Paul Revere and edited by G. I. History “The Importance of Beer and Taverns in the American Revolution.” American Journal of Social History. 97.3 (2008), 354-382. Social History Full Text. W. H. Wilson. Castleton State College, Calvin Coolidge Library. 25 Oct. 2008. This article discusses the importance of beer and taverns in bringing together discussion of the American Rebellion. It draws on the first hand experience of three Revolutionaries and their experiences in the pub. The article includes discussion of social class in where one would congregate.
Written for a scholarly audience, the article brings out that even though the Revolutionaries were fighting for Liberty, it was a relative term and a dangerous one. The authors all had first hand experience in the Revolution and write from different perspectives. The editor has provided a literature review as well as an extensive bibliography. The summary and general discussion provided a useful overview of the conclusions drawn by the authors and could be used in the research paper to support a conclusion. I found this article through the Social Science Fulltext database. I searched using the keywords taverns, beer and post roads.
Book example (with known authors)
Washington, George and Nathaniel Greene. Military Strategies: On a Limited Budget Boston: Colonial Press, 1799 Geared for both a broad audience and professional military historians this book provides an insight into the financial crises involved in the war. The authors show the importance and reliance on foreign currency and support in the prosecuting of the war. The authors share their first hand experience of deprivation and include a list of books that they used in planning military strategy.
By common consensus the authors were the best American generals and so their book is a valuable resource in understanding the relationship between economics and strategy. Chapter Two of the book is particularly useful since it contains Washington’s and Greene’s plans for the Battle of Manhattan. I found this book in the Castleton State College Library online catalog. I searched for the term finances in the Title field and sorted the results by most recently published. I found a couple of books that looked good in the catalog but this one was the most useful once I got to the shelf.
Book example (for young children) Thoroughblood, Equus, That’s a Horse of a Different Color Boston: Green Dragon Press, 2008 This is a children’s book geared for grades 3-5. The author has selected famous horses in American history and told their story. He mentions Paul Revere’s and William Dawes’ love of horses. The heroine of the story is a young girl named Michelle who has a horse of her own and is taking riding lessons. She then becomes familiar with the importance of horses. In addition to Revere’s and Dawes’ horses, the author discusses Lee’s horse Traveler and Grant’s horse. And finally the author ends up discussing the color of horses and the Wizard of OZ. This is a delightful book especially for young children who love horses. At the same time it gives them an insight into history.
A fellow teacher in the Teaching American History Grant at Castleton recommended this book for my third grade class. I have had great success with it and would recommend it for a fifth grade class that might have slow readers. Patrick, S, Green Grow The Rushes, Oh South Boston: Celtic Press, 2009 89 pages This is a children’s book which deals with the Irish in the Revolutionary and Civil War in the United States. The book by S. Patrick has many colorful illustrations of the time period which will be appropriate for children in grades 3 to 5. It talks about the Fenian movement in the United States and Canada, thus the book will be most appropriate for those countries. S. Patrick was a noted zoologist who collected snakes before he became a children’s author. He has retired from that profession is now a full time children’s author.
The book is useful for discussing ethnicity and immigration in the United States in the nineteenth century. Children can dress up in period costumes and eat ethnic food. The book contains some recipes that might be useful. I came across this book doing a search in the Castleton College on line catalog. Hanover, George III, Michelle and Mary Serve Tea Boston: Colonial Press, 2005 120 pages This is a children’s book of fiction appropriate for grade 5 reading level. This book tells the story from the British viewpoint of the Boston Tea Party. Through the eyes of two good wives the English boycott of goods in the American colonies is explained. While the story focuses on the American women as Daughters of Liberty, the author makes it clear what the British position is and why the Americans are provoking the situation.
It gives a thought-provoking alternative view. Robinson, Jonathan. Brenda and Judy Meet Elizabeth Cady Stanton Seneca Falls: Women’s Press, 2004 122 pages In the tradition of meeting historical figures, two young women journey to Seneca Falls because they have heard of the Women’s Rights convention. They are advocates of women’s rights. They meet Frederick Douglass and other important delegates to the convention. The book brings out the role of women in the 19th century and why there was a need of convention to address the rights of women. The book should provide a thoughtful discussion and debate in class. It is appropriate for the 5th to 6th grade.
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