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Interpreting the Past


Mrs. Taylor
Tools of History
 Describe the importance of history.
 Identify questions used by historians to
acquire information.
 Describe the kinds of evidence historians
used to explore the past.
Terms and Names
 1. history
 2. historian
 3. primary source
 4. oral history
 5. secondary source
The Story of the Past
 History is the study of past events.
 A historian is a person who studies and
interprets the importance of the past.
 History is important because it helps us learn
about today and our future.
 By investigating a historical events historians
 Who was involved
 What were the issues
 Why did the event happen the way it did
 How the event affected what happened next.
Historians ask questions
 Historians are like detectives & investigators –
they asked lots of questions.
 In what order did events happen?
 How have belief systems developed and
 How have societies death with differences
among their people?
 How are societies similar and different?
 Why did things happen the way they did?
 How have groups or societies interacted and
what have been the results?
How Historians work
 Once a historians has a question. They look
for answers.
 They interpret the evidence.
 They use evidence from archaeologists and
How Historians work
 Primary Sources
 A primary source is a document or artifact that
was created during the particular historical
 Documents - military records, marriage
certificates, private letters, and diaries.
 Not all primary sources are written – artifacts
 Buildings, artwork, pottery, and tools.
 Oral history – stories passed from generation to
 West African storytellers
How Historians work
 Secondary Sources
 A secondary source is work produced about a
historical event by someone who was not
 Newspapers, books, paintings
 Historians must carefully examine all of the
evidence they use. Determining the details of
the sources are important.
 Why was the source written or recorded?
 Whom was the source written for?
 What was the author’s point of view?
Interpreting History
 Historians take evidence from primary &
secondary sources; and interpret it.
 Interpret it in a book, article, museum displays.
 Historians believed that the Tang dynasty
rulers controlled most of Chinese society, but
 a sealed cave was discovered in China in1900.
 They found that the farmers, not government
regulated farm operations.
 The government control of education was
Lesson Summary
 Historians begin their work by asking
questions about the past.
 Historians find, evaluate, and interpret
evidence to gain knowledge about the past.
 By studying new evidence, historians can
change or expand their knowledge of the past.

 Studying history teaches us how the past has
influenced the present. It also teaches us that
what we do today affects the future.

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