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Using Primary Sources: The Rogue's Gallery
How does studying a collection of primary sources reveal insights that studying a single source cannot?
In this lesson, students view an excerpt from the Rogue Book that introduces a 1909 book featuring hundreds of clippings for lost and wanted men from the early 20th century. They analyze pages from the book in order to figure out what purpose the book served and what it reveals about Clint Black, the man who owned it. Finally, they analyze how studying a collection of documents reveals more than a single document could.
Related Episode: Rogue’s Book Investigation
In addition to being a major country music star, Clint Black is an avid collector of Western memorabilia. Fifteen years ago, his wife bought him a scrapbook dated 1909 and filled with wanted notices. In this episode, Black asks host Elyse Luray to find out the purpose of this amazing scrapbook and more about the man who created it.
Suggested Grade Level
This lesson is appropriate for grades 6-12.
Suggested Unit of Study
This lesson is appropriate for preliminary units covering how to think like a historian and using primary sources.
Snapshots of Crime and Law Enforcement
Clint Black meets Elyse Luray and tells her how he came to own this book.
Clint Black meets History Detective Elyse Luray and tells her how he came to own this crumbling scrapbook. Elyse and paper conservator Christine Young then examine the book and confirm that it is indeed from 1909.
Elyse speaks to criminology professor Alex Gerould about the wanted scrapbook.
To view Clint Black’s Wanted Scrapbook slideshow, click here.
To print slideshow, click here.
Tape measures and rulers. Optional
Estimated Time Required
1-2 class periods
In 1909, the date on Clint Black’s scrapbook, modern policing was in its infancy. Forensic identification of “recidivists,” or repeat offenders, was just being scientifically coded. French police officer Louis-Alphonse Bertillon developed a system of identifying repeat offenders that was in use throughout the western world. “Bertillon cards” included a photograph of the criminal and a series of ten measurements, including height and the length of the right ear. British academic Francis Galton had just proposed using fingerprints to identify criminals. These systems are the precursors to the modern use of criminal forensics, including facial recognition and DNA testing.
Make enough copies of the Analyzing Primary Sources reproducible so that each student has at least four copies (make copies front and back to save paper).
Make 1-2 copies of each image from the collection of images Clint Black’s Wanted Scrapbook, enough so that there is 1 image for every 3-4 students. Number the images 1-6.
A class set of Image 1 from Clint Black’s Wanted Scrapbook. Optional.
Have students watch the video Snapshots of Crime and Law Enforcement while taking notes on the following. Afterwards, use the questions to assess comprehension and prompt discussion:
- What details do we learn about the Rogue Book in this clip?
- What does Clint Black want to know?
- Make a prediction: What was this book’s purpose? Who owned it?
After showing the video Snapshots of Crime and Law Enforcement from the History Detectives episode Rogue Book, explain to the class that they will be doing the work of the history detective and studying the pages of the book. The images in Clint Black’s Wanted Scrapbook include:
- Page 1: Multiple notices including Rewards for criminals and missing property, Wanted notices for a murderer and a prison escapee; includes Bertillon numbers on a few of the notices
- Page 2: Single, detailed Wanted notice, including picture, Bertillon measurements and description
- Page 3: Multiple notices including rewards for return of stolen goods, conviction and detention of criminals and a missing person
- Page 4: Single, detailed Wanted notice, including picture, Bertillon measurements, and description
- Page 5: Scrap of a Reward notice and a letter to the Chief of Police regarding a missing boy
- Page 6: Multiple notices, including a few Wanted notices with pictures and Bertillon measurements, rewards for missing/lost people, and a notice of a new Chief of Police in Fort Worth, Texas
Begin the investigation by studying “Page 1” together as a class. Lead a discussion using the Analyzing Primary Sources reproducible and the following discussion questions as a guide.
- Examine: What do you notice first?
- Examine: What does the whole page look like?
- Examine: What do the individual notices include?
- Think: What similarities do you see between the notices?
- Think: What differences?
- Think: Do all the notices serve the same purpose? Or are there different purposes?
- Think: Does any notice seem to not belong with the others?
- Question: Is there anything you can’t figure out? What questions do you have about it?
Then, have students count off by five. All students assigned to number 1 will get together and study “Page 1.” All students assigned to number 2 will get together and study “Page 2,” and so on.
Ask students to work in their groups to study their assigned page of the book. After an adequate amount of time, ask students to rotate one station: page one to two, two to three, etc. As students work, guide them to ask questions about the stamps on the pages, the Bertillon measurements (if possible, allow students to look up Bertillon measurement using the Internet), the numbered notices, the different purposes of the notices, and the general appearance of each page (i.e. organized or messy, similar dates or different dates, etc.).
Encourage the students to “Think Like a Historian” (see this lesson plan for more information on “Thinking Like a Historian). Prompt students to use the following steps when investigating the documents:
- Sourcing: Who made this source? Where did it come from?
- Contextualizing: Imagine the setting surrounding this source: How was the world that made this source different than our own?
- Corroborating: What do other sources say about the information in this document? Do they agree or disagree with what this document says?
- Close Reading: What does the document say? Is it biased? What is the tone?
Next, lead a discussion in which the students attempt to answer Clint Black’s questions.
- What is this book? What was it used for?
- Whose book was it? What kind of person was he?
After the discussion, play the video Bertillon Card from the History Detectives episode Rogue Book, in which criminology expert Alex Gerould explains that Clint Black’s book is a wanted scrapbook. He speculates that the Chief of Police was at the cutting edge of policing based on the prevalence of Bertillon numbers.
Ask students to take notes on what they were right about and what they missed.
Then, lead a discussion on how students used the primary sources to answer Black’s questions.
- Could you have answered Black’s questions by looking at just one page of the book? What did looking at a collection of pages tell you that looking at just one could not?
- Why is considering multiple sources important when studying history?
When the investigation is finished, give the entire class time to research Alphonse Bertillon and his Bertillon system in more detail. (See Resources for more detail on Bertillon.) You can use the “Bertillon Card” image as an example. Then have students use the Document a Criminal: Creating Bertillon Cards reproducible to create Bertillon Cards either for themselves or a classmate. Post the Bertillon cards around the room so all students can view them.
More on History Detectives
Use the following episodes or lesson plans from History Detectives to support/enhance the teaching of this lesson in your classroom.
- Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body. National Library of Medicine exhibit on the history of forensic medicine, including information about Alphonse Bertillon and the Bertillon system, with concise background and period images
- Forensic Science. Collection of essays about forensic crime solving and famous criminal cases by Jim Fisher, former FBI agent and law professor
National History Standards
2. Historical Comprehension: The student comprehends a variety of historical sources
3. Historical Analysis and Interpretation: The student engages in historical analysis and interpretation
4. Historical Research Capabilities: The student conducts historical research
US History Content Standards for Grades 5-12
Era 6: the Development of the Industrial United States (1870-1900)
- Standard 3: The rise of the American labor movement and how political issues reflected social and economic changes
Common Core State Standards
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.6 Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.7 Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.9-10.7 Integrate quantitative or technical analysis (e.g., charts, research data) with qualitative analysis in print or digital text.
CCS.ELA-literacy.RH.11-12.1Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.2 Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.3 Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.7 Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.9 Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.