In our world today, almost everyone has access to the internet. Historians can find many online articles, books, and other important sources to add to their studies. Instead of searching for these sources through libraries, historians can do a quick search through online sources. Although when it comes to finding sources online, you have to be just as careful as to where you find them. Like Wikipedia and books like Gavin Menzies 1421, not everything you find is true. Not always just for historians, but for other professionals, finding credible information can be easier due to digital resources. Historians and other professionals can exchange and send sources to one another, making it much quicker and more efficient. Especially with older documents that are not as easy to send to others. Technology is constantly changing, and with one click of a button, pieces can be posted, sent, and read online.
Recent fields such as women’s/gender, social and cultural, ethno-history and environmental history all hold a certain bias because they discuss the issues from their own viewpoints but do not actually take into account the experiences of those who they are discussing. Another weakness is that these recent fields are newer, therefore there is less information on these topics because previously, it was always white scholars writing history the way they wished to have their audience perceive it. These fields provide a new perspective in how to analyze and look at society. It is yet another layer to the complexities of humans and society. As a whole the emergence of these fields is actually very beneficial to society. There are weaknesses within the fields and how various topics are discussed, but the fields themselves are overall positive to the advancement of understanding our environment and society. Personally, I enjoy these fields because they are newer and they offer a more in depth look at history as a whole.
Similar to everyone’s previous schooling, I was always taught the same subjects in history. Living in California for kindergarten through 3rd grade, I learned a different side of history and learned a lot about Mexico and subjects relevant to the west coast in comparison to the east coast and the Thirteen Colonies. Being homeschooled as well as attending public schools in Virginia, I have been taught the traditional subjects like the American Revolution and the Civil War. Each year, teachers go into more depth and you learn something new every year that will be on the SOL (unless someone is not from Virginia). When attending UMW and declaring my history major, I then began to realize our teachers hardly taught us important details of history like detailed military, political, and social history. Reading academic scholars in the various history classes, I have enjoyed learning about the military aspects of history – more specifically, the Civil War. For example, Women’s role into the Civil War and slavery before and after. As we have discussed previously, historians are expanding their genres because more people in the past were gradually able to be able to read and study their works. Now, almost everyone has the ability, but before, a white man was essentially the only person to study history as a whole, so scholars would write for those white men instead of telling the story of a female slave or a poor white man.
Reading both Francis Parkman and Francis Jennings, the two were very dissimilar though they are writing of the same war. The two seemed to have different characteristics that separated themselves from one another. Parkman wrote about the natives as savages, trying to separate them and essentially dehumanizing them. Parkman wrote about the natives being cannibals, which we see as one of the least human things you can do. He was living with the Sioux Indians for several weeks which led him to begin to write of their savagery. Since Parkman and Jennings were born almost a hundred years apart, their views will be different since Parkman lived in the time of Manifest Destiny and is most known for writing about the Oregon Trail, where Jennings was born in the early 20th century. As we talked previously in class about people writing about what interests them in comparison to more formal, academic writing, I think Parkman fits that and writes what interests him – especially natives being savages and natives being obstacles of westward expansion.
Jennings was born in 1918, right before the end of World War I. Jennings read several pieces of works of Parkman and was influenced by him. Though both were historians, both again were different in their writings. Jennings has more modern ideas due to the fact that he was born more recently and died roughly 15 years ago. He writes of myths that he says are “harmful to people living today,” including racism and militarism. While Jennings lived through the 20th century, he was affected by the several wars the U.S. was involved in and even served in the U.S. Army, separating the two historians points of view.
Popular history is different from academic history in a sense that popular history can be more informal, as well as having the facts to back up specific arguments. For example, picking and choosing facts that fit the text best, the time frame, or what the audience wants to read and be interested in. Academic history tends to be more formal and is written in detail about the historical event. Since academic history is more formal, it tends to have a smaller audience in comparison to the less formal, more everyday popular history. The differences are significant because to someone, one may have less value than another. Academic history has the potential to be more focused on a certain subject, which is why it can be seen as more academic than popular history. Popular history, since it may not necessarily include all the facts or people, will seem less academic to someone, though both can be useful forms of sources.