Answer the following series of questions responding to the historical arguments made by Davidson and
Lytle in 2 chapters of the book, After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection. Include the chapter title and
question number with your answer to each of the analytical questions. Your answers should be a thorough
paragraph in length for each question to fully answer all parts of the question. Additionally, include at least
one specific example from the text to support your answer for each question.
The Visible and Invisible Worlds of Salem: Studying History at the Community Level
1. Why must historians determine the scale and scope of research from the outset of an historical
investigation? Why is the topic of the Salem Witch Trials a good example of small-scale history?
2. How do the conclusions of early historians such as Thomas Hutchinson and Charles Upham essentially
differ from those of later historian, Chadwick Hansen, about the validity of the practice of witchcraft in 1692
Salem?Describe specifically how historians Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum went about looking for
“correlations: characteristics common to groups that might explain their behavior”.
4. This article continually investigates the Salem Witch Trials from the small scale actions of individuals to
the large scale explanation of what motivated such actions (such as religion, psychology, sociology,
economics, politics, and even gender roles). Specifically explain 2 examples of how the authors connected
the motivations of a specific individual, to a wider social explanation of their actions during the witch trials.
5. What are your personal conclusions about what caused the Salem Witch Trials after reading this
Declaring Independence: The Strategies of Documentary Analysis
1. What did Thomson’s Journal reveal about the chronology of the writing, adoption and signing of the
Declaration of Independence?
2. How does John Adams’ statement, “What are we to think of history? When in less than 40 years, such
diversities appear in the memories of living men who were witnesses” explain the problem of John
Trumbull’s painting? How does memory play a role in the way history is recorded? What does Adams mean
more broadly about the nature of memory as a source of writing history?
3. How did the appearance of Jefferson’s earlier rough draft help to shed light on the significant changes
and the omissions of the final draft of the Declaration? Provide at least one significant omission as an
4. Describe 2 tactics of interpretation: context and reconstructing the world behind a document’s words.
Specifically, how does the context of contemporary events help to explain the initial appearance, and later
disappearance of a discussion of the institution of slavery from the Declaration of Independence?
5. What surprised you about the writing of the Declaration of Independence and what do you believe it
means for Americans today? How is it still relevant?