Guided Primary Source Analysis: States of the Union

President Obama 2016 State of the Union Address
President Obama 2016 State of the Union Address. January 12, 2016. Text accessed from

Read this In Custodia Legis blog post on State of the Union addresses from the Library of Congress. List the main points covered in the post. Then look at the text cloud made from the text of President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address given on January 12, 2016. What key words and themes are highlighted? How do those themes compare to the main headings of the address as categorized by the 2016 address White House web page?

Create a text cloud (select Word list > Extract words) of the most recent presidential State of the Union address. Compare and contrast key words and themes represented in it with the themes from President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union Address or the State of the Union address of another president. What similarities and differences did you note?

Given the state of the country today, what themes do you think should be emphasized in the next State of the Union address? Create a word cloud that highlights key words and themes you identified and the relative importance you give to them. Be prepared to explain and defend your choices.

What other observations, reflections or questions does this source inspire? Let us know!

Related resources