Scratching Beneath the Surface:

Historical Sleuthing

Scratching Beaneath the Surface: NewsBits
Scratching Beneath the Surface: M. Sargeant Wheeler's History of Winona

Scratching Beneath the Surface: Jane Ely's Letters

Scratching Beneath the Surface: Historian as Sleuth

Combining Sources to Get the Big Picture

We have now seen how historians resort to the use of many different sources in order to gather evidence to help us understand the past. The more sources historians use the stronger their evidence becomes, and the more likely their pictures of the past are to be accurate.
We often harbor preconceived notions as being truth. Sometimes our preconceived notions are based on myths, legends, or popular ideas supported by inaccurate depictions in stories, movies, and on television. Sometimes it is difficult to let go of these ideas, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. Historians often refer to this "letting go" as the "debunking of myth."Look for evidence throughout the Website that either defends or debunks these ideas.

1. If I were a youngster during the times of the early Minnesota Territory it is most likely that I would have been living in the interior of the county and being raised on a farm. My life would probably have been very much like the kidís lives on the TV show, Little House on the Prairie.

2. The greatest danger children faced was probably abduction and maybe even death at the hands of Native Indian people.

3. Minnesota was probably populated by white people at a very slow pace because it was so difficult to get here.

4. The early settlers of Minnesota were all honest, hard-working, and level-headed people who only hoped for a chance to eke out a simple life for themselves and their families.

5. Ministers and lawyers were probably held in the highest regard.

6. Most people lived on farms and only moved to the cities as industrialization took place toward the end of the century. 

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