A. Why is history so important to society?
- Provides a sense of identity,
- Helps us to make sense of the world and
- Provides lessons in right and wrong.
▪ An individual stripped of memory finds the world a confusing place; a society with no sense of history is unaware where it has come from or where it is going.
▪ The historian, by providing society with its collective memory, is a powerful individual. After all, "History" doesn't actually mean "What happened in the past". It doesn’t even mean "Surviving evidence from the past". It means "What historians have interpreted from the surviving evidence of the past".
▪ It is therefore important to consider carefully what the nature of the surviving evidence is, and how historians then choose to select and present it.
▪ Historians will approach the evidence with a "Big Question" in mind (e.g. Who was to blame for World War One? Was Nazism something which could only have happened in Germany?). With this question in mind, they will approach the historical record and assess the evidence in a number of ways outlined on the following pages.