Historical Hack: Reading Complex Documents

What you’ll learn to do: develop strategies for reading and interpreting complex historical documents

Oftentimes in history classes, you are expected to read primary source documents, but these can be written in old, outdated language using vocabulary or terminology that is not familiar to our modern eyes. Instead of feeling frustrated by the complicated text, think of it as a mystery you are trying to solve—how can you get to the main idea of the document? What is the document saying, and why? In addition to using some of the methods we have already learned about, such as the H.A.P.P.Y. Analysis, in this section, we’ll learn about strategies to slow down, annotate, summarize, and interpret complicated documents. With practice, you’ll become faster and more confident as you approach complex historical language.