What distinguishes a better historical account from a worse one?
We started our studies on the areas of knowledge with History. My new group is composed of Rhea, Eshan and me. After looking through the essential questions, we became intrigued by the knowledge questions displayed in the knowledge framework and chose the following: "What distinguishes a better historical account from a worse one?"
The day we discussed our question I felt sick and went to the nurse therefore I was not in class; however, I discussed it with Rhea later on in the day and she kept me up to date.
Looking at the question, I figured one problem we would face would be telling the difference between a historical event and a historical account. The historical event is described by the historical account. In class, we discussed that there should be coherence among historical accounts of the same historical event in order to consider them as being "more accurate". If there is coherence between them, it means that those multiple accounts are consistent and tell the same idea.
Today we learned about the elements that determine which historical accounts are better than others. Mr. Morrison taught us about coherence and consistency between multiple accounts in order to make a more credible depiction of a historical event.
To answer our question, "What distinguishes a better historical account from a worse one?" we decided to do an experiment that would explore two different historical accounts and we would have a discussion in class to decide which of the two was "better". We chose Battle of Fort Sumter to conduct our experiment.
We chose a first account from a newspaper article written the day of the battle and a second account from a website written years later. We then asked the class to identify which of the two they believed was better, without telling them that they were a newspaper or a website. The majority of the class, surprisingly, chose the website over the newspaper.
After completing our project in class, we came to the conclusion that it was almost impossible to provide a definite answer for our question. There were a number of lingering questions that appeared during our research process. One of the main lingering questions we encountered was, "What makes a historical account better?". This is hard to reply to because it truly depends on the purpose of the knower. The knower chooses the purpose of the historical account they use, therefore, if the historical account does not fit with the purpose, the knower will conclude that it is not "better". However, if another knower seeks a different purpose, that same historical account could be the best out of all of the research they could find.
The discussion in class was very interesting. I learned to answer the question from a different perspective than what I originally thought.