Thinking Like a Historian

Note: The “Thinking Like a Historian” sections of your textbook provide us an opportunity to understand how (and why) historians have interpreted the past in different ways. By highlighting the works of two historians, sometimes from different time periods, these sections give us a glimpse into the field of historiography — the history of doing history. These brief excerpts are “secondary sources” — sources produced by scholars after the fact. In addition, your textbook author (David Emory Shi) has included primary documents to be read alongside of the secondary source excerpts. Primary documents are historical artifacts that comes from the time period under examination and can take a variety of forms (ie letters, diaries, political documents, movies, advertisements, etc.).

In this second “Thinking Like a Historian” section, Shi provides excerpts from two renowned historians who have examined women’s roles in American society during the early to mid-1800s. After reading the two excerpted secondary sources and the three primary sources carefully, write a two to three typed and double-spaced paper with standard font and margins that answers the question in bold below. When you have completed your assignment, you should upload it via the assignment link above.

Based on what you’ve read in your textbook so far, with particular attention to the three primary documents in the “Thinking Like a Historian” section, which historian — Clinton or Hewitt — do you think has the stronger interpretation regarding women’s roles and the ideology of “separate spheres” — and why?

In responding to the question above, you should include a brief summary of both Clinton and Hewitt respective arguments and you should take into consideration how the three primary documents either strengthen or weaken those arguments.

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