Explain why it is both necessary and helpful to study the context of prior history.

Topics: Historiography, Primary source, History Pages: 2 (584 words) Published: May 11, 2014
Explain why it is both necessary and helpful to study the context of prior history, especially the experiences of participants in that history, in order to understand what is valued by these participants. Also, what resources will be most helpful to you as a student of history?

Introduction:

It has long been said that, “if we don’t know where we are coming from we will not know where we are going”. In other words knowledge of prior history allows us to avoid making past mistakes and serve as a guide to the future. In addition a well-rounded understanding of history can help us to make more informed present and future decisions. “History requires us to think outside of our own experiences in time and place, fostering empathetic thinking, appreciation of diversity, and understanding of the relationship between context and judgment” (The National History Center, 2013).

Valuable and beneficial sources of history include Primary and Secondary sources. Primary sources as it relates to history are the “raw materials” gathered from the same time period of the topic/event, which forms the foundation of historical research and writing. Secondary sources are gathered from primary resources and have been analyzed then presented in the form of books or articles by historians.

History can be thought of as never changing; but history, like memories actually is always changing. Though the dates and statistics may not change, how they are interpreted can vary. For example, historians are always at work re-evaluating the past, asking new questions, examining new sources and finding new meanings in old documents to highlight the perspective of new knowledge and experience for a better understanding of the past (McNeill, 2013).

Knowledge of prior history allows for a better understanding of the “who, what, were, and when” at that particular time in history. We do not always learn from the mistakes that history has shown us; as observed in recent events with the war...
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