A Sense of History:
1. SOME THINGS HAPPEN BEFORE OTHER THINGS
Studying history is much more than the memorization of dates. But if we get things out of chronological order, we will get many other things wrong too.
2. SOME THINGS ONLY HAPPEN IN CERTAIN PLACES
Geography is as basic to the study of history as is chronology. Time and space are the most basic units of historical study because they are the most basic units of historical existence.
3. WHERE THERE IS NO RECORD THERE IS NO HISTORY
Stuff happened before human beings started leaving artifacts and writing things down, and a lot more stuff happened afterwards that nonetheless left no trace.
We can not draw conclusions where we do not have evidence.
Sometimes we can make educated guesses and speculate, but we dare not pass our speculation off as facts.
Always look for evidence to prove facts.
4. WRITTEN TEXTS ARE NOT THE ONLY KIND OF RECORDS
Writing is an absolutely wonderful invention. We know much more about other times and places because people have left written records. We also know those people better because they wrote down their thoughts.
Other human artifacts count as records too: pottery, coins, tools, ruins, paintings, jewelry, toys, etc.
Historians can also piece together clues from other forms of writing that no one thought of as literature: tax records, law codes, bills, inventory lists, ships' logs, baptismal or birth records, advertisements, letters from lonely or scared soldiers, etc.
5. HISTORY IS ALMOST ALWAYS COMPLEX
Events have multiple causes
Societies involve a mix of good and bad
6. CONFLICTING EXPLAINATIONS OF HISTORICAL EVENTS ARE ALWAYS POSSIBLE
Why are you in school? If you are thoughtful, you can probably list several reasons. The same can be said when attempting to answer historical questions such as: Why did the North win the Civil War?
7. HISTORICAL STUDY HAS AS MUCH TO DO WITH INTERPRETING THE PAST AS WITH GATHERING FACTS
8. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT FOR HISTORIANS THAN TO CHART CAUSE AND EFFECT
Excerpts from Gerald W. Schlabach.