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Mr. Lexington says that doing historical research is like being a detective and a lawyer after a crime has happened. It sounds kind of silly, but he’s got a point.

Here, I’ll let him explain.

Speaker plays audio

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Mr Lexington talking to Jasmine.

"A detective gathers evidence and clues and then uses those clues to figure out who committed the crime. A lawyer presents evidence to back up a claim that a person is guilty or innocent. So for your project, you’ll be the detective and a lawyer."

Jasmine raising her hand

"Wait, Mr. Lexington, I’m confused. So I have to investigate Harriet Tubman?"

Mr. Lexington talking to Jasmine

"No, what I mean is that like a detective or a lawyer, a historian’s job is to gather evidence — and then to interpret that evidence and use it to prove a claim."

Jasmine at her desk talking

"Oh, ok, so I’m using evidence to prove that Harriet Tubman inspired other abolitionists, right?"

Mr. Lexington in front of class

"Yes! And what is your evidence?"

Mr. Lexington and Jasmine

"My primary sources?"


Mr. Lexington says historians start by gathering primary source documents and work to figure out what they mean. Then they use those sources as evidence to make a claim about why a topic is important in history.