HISTORY EXPLORING EVIDENCE

ESSENTIAL QUESTION

HOW CAN A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT BE ASSESSED?

SOURCE USED TO EXPLORE HOW A HISTORICAL ACCOUNT CAN BE ASSESSED

ELEMENTS OF ASSESSMENT

BASIC ANALYSIS OF THE SOURCE

  • Secondary Source
  • Written by Canadian historian Margaret Macmillan
  • Written in the year 2013
  • About the events leading up to WWI
  • Analysis of the cause and effect patterns during the time

VALUES

  • Since it was written in 2013, the perspective offers hindsight. The historian can comment on both the causes and effects of each event.
  • It is broadly focused on many different events so the big picture of how WWI started can be seen.
  • It gives context and explanation for each event so the reader can clearly see how small occurrences fit into the global dynamic at the time.

LIMITATIONS

  • The source is limited in that it does not go into great detail on any of the events. Thus, a historian studying a specific cause of WWI would not learn as much from the source.
  • Facts can be distorted over time, so the information given may not be entirely accurate.
  • As the source is written by a western historian, it fails to mention the role of eastern countries such as Japan during and before the war.

PROGRESS JOURNAL

Entry 1. There are certain criteria that make a historical account effective and reliable. A good historical account must include evidence, an explanation of that evidence, and the topic must have significance. Additionally, it is important to have hindsight when historians are looking at a certain topic. To break these aspects down, first, everything we know of the past is based off of evidence. Without evidence, generally in the form of primary sources, it is impossible for a historian to form any conclusions. Additionally, evidence is used to support main points in a historical account. However, this evidence cannot simply be listed for a historical account to be effective. The historian must draw her or his own conclusions and analyze this in the form of an explanation, usually following the evidence or integrated into it. To determine whether or not a topic is significant, a historian considers how many people it affected and to what extent it affected those people. Too many events occur each moment for a historian to record each and every incidence. Instead, she or he must locate the important events of the past and analyze those. Finally, it is important for a historical account to have some degree of hindsight, preferably at least ten years. This time allows a historian to better understand and form conclusions about an event by seeing its effects.

Entry 2. For one of my elective readings, I read the article from Texas Public Radio on the Slocum Massacre. This was a very interesting article and provided a lot of information about the nature of history as an area of knowledge, especially about the aspect of evidence and lack of it. On July 19, 1910, the white community of Slocum, Texas attacked the black community, causing many to lose their lives, families, and homes. However, this atrocious massacre is little known by a great majority of people. This is because nearly all of the evidence regarding the incident was lost or destroyed. It is not taught in history classes at Texas public schools and many claim that it never happened. The white community did not want news of this terrible act they committed to get out and the black community feared that spreading news of the event would encourage further attacks. Thus, due to a lack of evidence, many still believe today that the Slocum Massacre never occurred. After reading this article, I began thinking about the danger of covering up history. If we do not see the mistakes made by our ancestors, we are doomed to repeat this same mistakes time and time again.

Entry 3. Reflection to be completed after redo presentation.

EXTENSION PROPOSAL

I propose that watching the movie "Hidden Figures" be added to the extension section of the history AOK. The following is a summary of the movie.

"Three brilliant African-American women at NASA -- Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe) -- serve as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn (Glen Powell) into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation's confidence, turned around the Space Race and galvanized the world."

From this movie, it can be learned that often very significant parts or people of history are relatively unknown. Many people who did great things never had their stories told, such as the three women in this movie before it was produced. By exposing ourselves to different types of history, we can learn from the stories of great historical figures.

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