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Exploring Primary Sources: Braden Exercise


In the following weeks and months, the investigation into the bombing of the Wades’ house turned into allegations of Communist affiliations and activities. Carl Braden was charged with sedition, the prosecution claiming that the Braden's had purchased and transferred the house to the Wades as part of a Communist plot to incite racial tension and violence. Braden went to trial and was sentenced to 15 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He served eight months of his sentence until state sedition laws were overturned by the Supreme Court decision in Pennsylvania v. Nelson.

Below you will find materials related to the trial of Carl Braden. As you look at the materials and work through the discussion questions with your group, think about the context in which these were created and consider what unique knowledge and perspective we can gain from them.   


Brainstorm. List 10-20 words or phrases about the documents/items. Start with the details of the document, like topic, names, publication, etc. What do you find interesting? Strange? Do you find anything appealing or disturbing? Things you don’t understand or are unfamiliar with?

Bias. Identify some biases in play. What do we know or what can we infer about the speakers? Whose perspective is represented? Who is the target audience? 

Context. Think about the when and why of this primary source. What gives their voice authority? What should we be wary of? What makes this a valuable resource to the topic? 

Power: What power relationships can you identify in the materials? Can you identify any gaps or silences? Try to think in terms of format in addition to content.

Reflections. What can we learn from these materials? How is our understanding of the topic enhanced through these first-hand recollections? What are some avenues for further research on this topic? 


Page 3 of brief of appellant, heading reads
Page 4 of brief of appellant, continued description of Wade's attempts to buy a house.
Page 5 of brief of appellant, contains Wade's testimony that he approached Carl Braden.
Page 6 of brief of appellant, continuation of Wade's testimony and Braden's reaction.
Page 7 of brief of appellant, continuation of Braden's testimony in which he describes his motivation for complying with Wade's request.
Page 8 of brief of appellant, details events following the purchase of the house.
Page 9 of brief of appellant, continuation of events following the purchase of the house.
Page 10 of brief of appellant, continuation of events following the purchase of the house, formation of the Wade Defense Committee, and bombing of the house.
Page 11 of brief of appellant, continuation of events and a description of Braden's behavior and testimony.