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Biographical Perspectives: I Say....


What Do YOU Say? 

Historical scholars consider all of these types of resources (primary, contemporary secondary, and existing historical analysis) in developing their own theories about the impact of an historical figure on the events that occurred around and after them. Considering multiple biographical perspectives allows you to draw critical conclusions about the effects of one individual's life on those around them and on history, in general.

You and Biographical Perspectives

We are often tasked with examining the lives of others, both in class and in civic life.  Below are some common informational task you may be asked to complete.


When you develop a biography of an individual,  you are expected to report just the facts, free of the bias that can assert itself through analysis.  These kinds of assignments are generally designed to familiarize students with information that has been agreed upon by historians.

Primary Source Analysis (He/She Say, They Say)

When you analyze primary source documents, you are seeking insight into the contemporary beliefs and ideas that surrounded a particular individual or event.  This work may ask you to compare different perspectives (sometimes opinions) of individuals living at the same time.  The evidence used to support your understanding was produced through first person accounts (diaries, correspondence, newspaper accounts, etc.). (He/She Said or They Said)

Historical Analysis (History Says)

Historians are social scientists, and like all scientists, they base their work on observations (through archeology or archives) and on the work that has been done by predecessors and colleagues.  An historical analysis takes into account both primary source documents AND the scholarly ideas of others, comparing and contrasting these to arrive at unique conclusions about historical individuals or events.  When you're asked to do this type of work, it is important to examine multiple (and sometimes conflicting) existing historical analysis, alongside relevant primary source documents.  

Historical Reflection (I Say)

This type of work allows you to examine and compre biographical information, primary source analysis, and historical analysis in shaping a personal opinion about the historical importance or impact of an individual or event on the society of which you are a part, or even on your own personal life.  THIS is the type of historical thinking that transfers well into our every day lives, as we develop habits of critically examining both author and information.

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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