This site includes a complete collection of historical documents that relate to the death of William Robinson in 1868. Robinson had settled on Salt Spring Island in the British colony of British Columbia a decade before his death as part of a contingent of Black Americans fleeing persecution and slavery in the years leading to the American Civil War. Visitors can look at the collection of archival docuoments to interpret the raw material of the past and to ask the larger questions like, how do we know what happened in the past?
Type of Material:
Historical investigation. Tutorial.
The integration of primary resources to investigate an historical account.
Identify Major Learning Goals:
1. To understand and explain the definition and role of Primary Sources in historical research. 2. To identify and explain the purpose and use of different types of primary sources. 3. To understand and explain the definition and role of secondary sources in historical research. 4. To explain the process of historical inquiry and the methods used to locate historical documents as well as possible sources of historical information. 5. To identify and discuss the cultural and historical context of the events surrounding the death of William Robinson. 6. To communicate theories of historical account in the form of an essay with the appropriate primary and secondary sources to support the position.
Target Student Population:
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
1. Survey of Canadian and 19th century history. 2. Knowledge of the use of primary sources and methods of historical interpretation.
Evaluation and Observation
This site was created by a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of History at the University of British Columbia and an Assistant Professor in the History Department at the University of Victoria. Their specific interest motivations for the site are related to the social history of rural Canada during the 19th century as well as historical aboriginal and non-aboriginal relationships. Credits from the website provide validation for the accuracy and level of authority of the creators, their sources, and the supporting materials. The website contains primary docuoments including newspaper accounts, government records and trial files, historical photos, drawings and paintings, and diaries and letters. Secondary sources include graphs, maps, and contemporary perceptions. All sources are cited throughout the website with one page listing sources used. Additional information is provided for further research with links and/or bibliographical information provided. Accompanying each group of souces is an explanation of its origin, how it was located and why and how it is used in historical inquiry. The website is focused primarily on the specific case of William Robinson. However, the inquiry into the specific historical account of this case also provides information on the cultural history of settlement in Canada during the 19th century as well as aboriginal/non-aboriginal relationships. In addition, the explanations provided with the variety of primary sources serves as a guide to explain the role of primary sources in historical inquiry.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
This is an excellent teaching tool. The creators provided their email addresses for questions regarding use and content of the website and provide an online feedback form. A Teacher's Guide may be obtained by emailing one of the creato
rs. The website is an effective use of student's time if it is suplemented by activities and specifically defined learning objectives. This website would be an effective tool for communicating the role of primary documents in historical research. Students can use the materials provided to draw their own conclusions and write an historical interpretation of the events based on their research of the primary and secondary sources on the website.
Instructors need to gain password from the designers in order to view certain interpretation sections. Learning objectives need to be posted on the website as well as classroom and student activities.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The navigational banner prevents the user from bcoming lost in the website. The home page contains short and easy to understand directions using the website. The website is well designed and organized in a logical and coherent manner. Credits list the site update for 2000-2001. Out of hundreds of links only three were broken.
Photographs, charts, graphs, paintings/drawings, and maps require additional download time.