Historical Facts: Trustworthy? Evans' Perspective

About this essay

According to Evans, what is a “fact,” and what problems are there with how we use sources? What kinds of sources do we use to understand the past, according to Benjamin? What are the best ways to make sense of those sources? Throughout the study, as well as the observation of history, history itself provides a strong understanding on why the historical events happen, and what evidence can support these claims. When it comes to Richard J. Evans book, In Defense of History, the book discusses what make an historical fact fully trustworthy, and to what extent can the evidence support the fact.

As for Evans, his opinion of what make a historical fact fully true, is discussed throughout the chapter. His opinion of whether or not an historical fact can be supported by sources can be justified by the understanding that whether or not the evidence is fully supported, it all depends on the historian’s view.

Evans discusses that “The distinction between primary and secondary source, on which historical research rests, is abolished.

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Historians become like authors like any other, the object of literary and analysis. The boundaries between history and fiction dissolve.”1 When going into deeper analysis of the text, Evans starts off by giving the understanding if a source is a vital piece of information regarding the historical event. With support from Sir Geoffrey Elton, the subject of “Ideological theory” comes in to context. This theory, threatens the historians work by exposing the historian to predetermine ideas, rather than having visually evidence to support their claim.

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To better understand this, the historical claim must be represented in visual context the same time it is produced, rather than putting the present knowledge into the past. This meant that history must produce some sort of history in order for the information to be fully trustworthy, rather than a word of mouth by historians in the future. When compared to E.H. Carr’s definition of a historical fact, the idea disagrees dramatically. Carr’s idea was that, “an event didn’t become a historical fact until it was accepted as such by historians.” Both of these ideas, with support of others, made the idea of historical facts counting towards the truth of history, rather than against it. The facts are visual and actual hand written or physical material that supports the historical event taken place. This subject supports the idea that an event can and will take place due to the actual representation of an event.

In the book, In Defense of History, Richard Evans himself points out that, “even if we could find contemporary documents… would the historian’s account reflect reality in the same way as the contemporary sources did? The answer must be yes and no.” .” This supports the question whether or not the source of the “fact” is indeed supported by visual evidence. Even if the document that is written provides physical evidence, it still does not fully support the idea that it is trustworthy information. Evans, supports this claim by saying that all documents are written by some individuals point of view, even in the idea that a certain audience type will read the work and help justify the whole truth within the document. This claim is supported by Dominick LaCapra, when he states, “historians unwittingly carry the biases of such documents directly into their own writing.”

The statement that LaCapara makes helps validate what Evans means by understanding that facts can be either supported or not. When compared to the statement that historians put their own biases into their documents, Richards Evans also makes the accusation that historians use sources in many different ways. This means that the source is “used as an interpretative vehicle for ideas, not as clues to exterior reality.” This supports the theory that the historians the writes their own documents are only interpreting the knowledge at the best of their ability, not changing it to fit the case. In the book, A Student’s Guide to History, written by Jules R. Benjamin, the book explains the different uses of working with different types of historical evidence and how the different evidence can lead to an answer. According to Benjamin, there are several sources needed in order to place evidence into a category.

The different sources are primary sources, as well as secondary sources. The Primary sources themselves are raw materials, used to reconstruct the past. Benjamin describes this source as, “direct recordings from an event that comes directly from the participants.” Besides whiteness recordings, primary sources are based on clear, written sources such as documents, or drawing. Artifacts can also be used as a primary source that give explanation of what thing went along during the historical event. What makes secondary sources different than primary sources, is that secondary sources are usually written by an individual with expertise on the subject matter. Most secondary sources are later on red by students and scholars on the main topic. The best ways to make sense of these two sources, is to understand the main creation of the actual source.

Primary sources themselves, are hands on and usually very trustworthy when establishing historical facts. But when compared to secondary topics, secondary topics themselves are sometimes researched in more detailed by a writer, a secondary source also sometimes uses primary sources to justify its evidence. When trying to understand what “facts” are, and what problems are associated with the different uses of sources; learning the difference between primary and secondary sources open up the discussion of which evidence do historians choose to support. In the book, In Defense of History written by Richard Evans, the author explains how evidence can be either supported byhistorical facts, or whether the source of the evidence is not supported. In either concept, the opinion of the historian is all that is needed to make a claim. To make sense of sources and their evidence to support historical facts, the evidence can be determined by the primary or secondary source that is used to help better clarify the reason for the event. Even though both work together on giving a response to a question being asked, both the sources and historians give them a sense of clarification to the historical fact, or event that is being vindicated.

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Historical Facts: Trustworthy? Evans' Perspective. (2023, Mar 11). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/what-makes-historical-facts-trustworthy-according-to-evans-in-in-defense-of-history-essay

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