Evaluating Eyewitness Reports

Eyewitness accounts are often notoriously unreliable. Use this lesson plan from EDSITEment to evaluate eyewitness accounts about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Historians often use such accounts as part of their research into events, but they must look at them with a jaundiced eye, and not base all their historical interpretation of evidence on what one or two eyewitnesses say. Students compare newspaper reports with eyewitness accounts to find how the understanding of events can be changed by tincture of time. The other event students look at is a diary by a sixteen-year-old girl who wrote about the Union Army’s occupation of her town, Gallatin, Tennessee. The lesson makes several suggestions of what students should examine as they are reading her diary.

courtesy of Knovation