Introduction to the Study of History

Discussion Questions 1

Why Study or Write History?

Assignment: Read Rampolla (pp. 1-5 and 6-24) and the handout on the nature of History. Answer the following questions in writing, and be prepared to discuss your answers in class. Your answers will be collected and graded.

1. What is History? Summarize and explain at least three definitions of the term. Do these different meanings of the term History contradict each other? What does this situation reveal about how Historians think about their discipline?

2. Why study History? How and why do historians seek to make sense of human experience? List and summarize at least five reasons for studying History, rank them in order of importance, and justify your ranking.
3. Identify and discuss the kinds of questions historians ask to study the past.  How and why do these questions change?
5. What are primary sources? What are secondary sources? Give two examples of each and discuss their characteristics.  Why should a historian be careful using both primary and secondary sources?

6.  How do historian analyze and interpret primary sources?  Study the documents concerning the Scopes Trail (Rampolla, pp. 17-24) and Rampolla's discussion of them.  Identify each type of source discussed and then discuss at least three of the problems historians must overcome when they use different types of primary sources (identify three problems for each source).


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Last Update: 27.VII.2007

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