Before embarking on the study of history, understanding how to “do” history can be useful. To most people, the definition of history is simple – it is what happened in the past. However, it is really not that simple. Since we cannot revisit the past (except if you are Dr. Who), the main tasks of the historian is to interpret the artifacts that have been left behind. These artifacts from the past are what historians call “primary sources.” Primary sources are the raw materials of history–original documents and material objects which were created in the past. You have probably experienced primary sources in your own life. For example, many of you have visited museums, and the objects found in a museum are primary source objects – things created by those people living in the past. Another example is a book that may have been assigned in a class like one from Shakespeare or Jane Austin; those too are considered primary sources because they are written by authors from the past.
When historians write about the past, they interpret the meaning of those objects. Interpretations of history are known as “secondary sources” and you have also encountered these in your life. A textbook, for example, is a secondary source because it was written by a historian living today. Other examples of secondary sources (which again, are interpretations of the past) include most history books at Barnes and Noble, documentaries on TV, and even movies (think of Twelve Years a Slave). One of the problems that historians face is the biased nature of sources. It is important to consider who created the object, why they created it, and what message was it intended to convey. Even historians can be biased based on their personal beliefs (politics, religion, race, gender, etc.). A good historian attempts to understand these biases and write accounts that are based on sound logic and supported with evidence (sorry fans of Ancient Aliens, that show doesn’t meet the threshold).
-Last names beginning with M-Z: Read Charles Inglis’s The True Interest of America Impartially Stated. Charles Inglis The True Interest of America Impartially Stated 1776.pdf· If your last name begins with M-Z your initial posting will attempt to convince the American colonies that independence is a terrible idea. You are “role-playing” as if you are a loyalist living in 1776. You will read the document by Charles Inglis, then use his arguments to present a compelling case against independence. Your posting should convey at least three of the main themes conveyed by Inglis, as well as include quotes from the reading to illustrate your main points. It should be a minimum of three paragraphs (each paragraph should be a minimum of 5 sentences).
***You must give specific examples & direct quotes from the primary sources used in the unit and must cite these sources following the MLA style. Please see my syllabus for how to cite the sources in-text and in your “Works Cited” section. You should use in-text citations. For your direct quotations, you must not only cite your source, but must also use quotation marks. Basically, half of you will have citations like this: (Paine 5) while the other half of you will have citations like this: (Inglis 3). You don’t need a works cited page.
***You must use these citations no matter what assignment you pick: regular discussion post, PowerPoint, pamphlet, YouTube video, etc. If you make a video you “cite” by simply saying something like this: “On page 3 in Common Sense, Thomas Paine writes…”