Engaging with primary sources to understand what happened in the past: Revisiting the William Robinson murder case
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Revisiting the William Robinson murder case
Learning objectives: This assignment is designed to enhance undergraduate
historical understanding by giving students an opportunity to
- analyse and interpret primary source material (individually)
- synthesize analysis into a coherent and convincing argument (in groups)
- increase confidence in interpreting raw data
1. Select The Murder tab from the options available in the top navigational bar
2. Learn about the murder by exploring a few primary source resources in each of
the given categories (The Search for the Murderer, The Trial, The Aftermath,
19th century interpretations)
3. (Individually) What types of information are available to the historian when
exploring a question from the past? How valuable are each of these sources?
(Hint: you may want to check out the "About this source" link available upon
opening the source document for help in answering this and the following two
questions) Why would a historian use this source? Where would s/he find it?
What does each source add to your picture of the case? Keep a record of what
each source document contributes to your view of the case.
4. (With your group) Share your findings with your assigned group. Compare your
various responses to the source material. Did your group achieve a consensus
of opinion? Did they agree with the verdict and opinion of the day? Construct
an argument for what happened in this case based on your research.
5. (Post to discussion forum) Submit both your individual and group response to
the Instructor/other groups for feedback.
1. Select the Historical Context tab from the options available on the top
2. Interact with a few resources in each of the given categories.
3. (With your group) How can a greater knowledge of the wider historical context
change your understanding of a past event? Has your opinion of why or even who
killed William Robinson altered as a result of the information provided here?
4. (Post to discussion forum) Submit your group response to the Instructor/other
groups for feedback.
1. Select the Interpretation tab from the options available on the top
navigational bar. (Make sure you obtain a password from your Instructor first).
2. (With your group) Read the conclusions of some of the experts who have
studied the case. How do they differ from your reading of the case? What are
the similarities? Evaluate their conclusions in light of your own analysis.
3. (Post to discussion forum) Submit a group reflection paper on what this
exercise has revealed to you about interpreting raw material of the past. How
do we know what happened in the past? Instructor and other groups to provide
Guidelines for submission of group postings:
- Submissions must be in essay form, well-articulated and argued and represent a
consensus of opinion in your group. Where appropriate, indicate where
individual members differed in opinion.
- Make sure you answer each of the given questions in your response papers.