In this lesson, you will be discovering different types of primary and secondary sources while solving the mystery of the crime. You will uncover clues about the crime and receive some tips about how to analyze this information. Be sure to analyze each clue carefully to determine the reliability of each source. You will need to explore all of the evidence before continuing. can someone help me write a summary?
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01.06 The Historian’s Clues—Text Version
Slide One: Cold Case
Introduction text appears overlapping a map of Colonial Williamsburg.
“On February 28, 1755, Will Anthony reported the disappearance of gardening tools from his blacksmith shop. For more than 250 years, this crime has gone unpunished. Can you solve this cold case?”
Slide Two: Case Summary
On February 28, 1755, someone stole gardening tools from Will Anthony’s blacksmith shop. Word around town is that the prime suspects for this crime were James Ansley and Matthew Farmer. Mr. Ansley was another blacksmith in town who threatened to burn down Will Anthony’s shop to force him out of business. Matthew Farmer was Will Anthony’s apprentice at the blacksmith shop. You arrive on the scene.
Slide Three: Inside the Blacksmith’s Shop
(Interior image of the blacksmith's shop with a box in the corner) A box on the floor appears to contain evidence.
Box contains diary, sales journal, interview with Matthew Farmer, photograph, and book titled Colonial Life.
You have found the blacksmith’s diary.
Sources: Is this a primary or secondary source? A primary source is any source that was created at the time of the historical period that you are investigating. A primary source can be a document, a song, or even an artifact. A secondary source is created after the time period of the event or historical period. A secondary source can be a biography, movie, or textbook.
Audience: Keep in mind each source’s intended audience and why a source was created. People typically write in a diary for their own reading and reflection and do not expect others to view this writing. How does this affect the evidence?
February 10, 1755
I am concerned about my apprentice, Matthew Farmer, and his family. Matthew confided in me that his father, Michael, was injured. His family is having a hard time tending to their crops and earning money.
March 1, 1755
I discovered that the gardening tools that I made in my shop have been stolen! They were missing at sunrise, when I went to my shop, so the thief must have stolen them last night.
March 6, 1755
I think I may need more sleep, as my memory seems to be failing me. I do not remember making a grubbing hoe two weeks ago, but in looking back at my sales journal, it appears that I sold one.
I have found the blacksmith’s diary. There are three entries less than a month apart. I need to figure out if this is a primary or secondary source! Did he expect anyone else to read this? Is this reliable evidence?
You have found the blacksmith’s sales journal.
Author: The blacksmith’s apprentice, Matthew, records all of the store’s sales transactions in this journal. This is an example of an artifact that a historian may use to understand an event or historical period.
Reliability: Knowing who created a source may give you a clue as to that person’s biases or motives. This information will help you evaluate the reliability of a source. Finding a date on a source will help you classify it as a primary source or secondary source. Knowing when it was created may also allow you to evaluate the credibility of the source.
Sales journal content:
February 14—Benjamin Miller—pistol—£3
February 20—Michael Farmer—grubbing hoe—2 shillings
February 26—Adam Reed—saddle—£2
Your observations: I have found the blacksmith’s sales journal. Entries are dated March 1, 1775, and were made by Matthew Farmer. How reliable is this?
Interview with Matthew Farmer
You have found the court’s transcript of an interview with Matthew Farmer.
Reliability: Does the source seem confident, use humor or sarcasm, or neglect to mention important events? Does the source stay consistent? These are all questions a good historian will want to keep in mind when determining the reliability of a source. The way in which the source presents information often provides as many clues as the actual information in the source.
Interviewer: Did you steal the gardening equipment from your employer? You were the blacksmith’s apprentice and had access to the shop.
Matthew Farmer: I would never (umm) steal from him. Mr. Anthony has been so kind to help me learn his trade. I am very grateful to him. In addition, I left the shop early on the day of the crime. (looks away) Besides, (hesitant laugh) why would I need to steal farming equipment when my father, Michael Farmer, purchased a grubbing hoe a week before the crime? Besides, Mr. Ansley, the other blacksmith in town, would love nothing more than to steal from Mr. Anthony. He wants to put our shop out of business. I (umm) saw him right outside of the shop the night the tools were stolen!
Interviewer: I thought you said you left the shop early that night.
Your observations: I have found the court’s transcript from an interview with Matthew Farmer. How reliable is this?
Is his information consistent?
You have found an alleged photograph of the crime.
Sources: Photographs, paintings, and other illustrations can be helpful in locating clues about a historical event. These items can be either primary sources or secondary sources, depending on when the image was captured. Study the visual and try to identify the location, event, and subject. Look for details such as the expression on the subject’s face, the style of dress, dates, objects, people, and other clues.
Photograph content: Shows a man stealing tools from a shop.
Your observations: I have found an alleged photograph of the crime. Did they even have cameras back then? The back of the photo says: “Title: Mr. James Ansley Stealing Tools From Will Anthony’s Shop, Artist: Elizabeth Burr, Date: 2010.”
You have found a history textbook from the 21st century!
Sources: Although not written at the time of the historical period that you are studying, secondary sources can be valuable tools. A secondary source can give information about a time period to help a historian understand the context in which the events occurred.
Textbook content: Colonial Life: Many colonists depended on agriculture for their livelihood and survival. During the drought of 1755, many colonists had little money for extra expenses. Farming tools were valuable and often stolen because many people in the community could not afford the extra expense of purchasing these tools from a blacksmith. Having these tools allowed colonists to cultivate their crops and feed their families.
Your observations: I have found a textbook from the 21st century. The information is very interesting! Drought … little money … motive?
You have reviewed all of the evidence in the box. You can go over your notes by selecting them on the left.
Do you have enough information to solve this cold case? If not, review the case summary or explore the evidence again.