Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Black Robe, part 2

This post is devoted to providing you with material to help you write the weekly assignment. Brian Moore, the author of the book (also called Black Robe, strangely enough--and who also wrote the screenplay) based his account on a series of books popularly known as Jesuit Relations. The relevant passage for the assignment can be found at the following link: These accounts were written by Jesuit clergy back to their superiors in France, updating them on their efforts to convert the native peoples in both present-day Canada and in the United States. Because these are observations of participants, historians find them very useful; they are considered primary sources (even though what you will be reading has been digitized after it was translated from the original French, printed, and bound into a series of books)

While primary sources are very important to historians (indeed, historians are completely dependent upon them), they still must be used with a great deal of caution. When reading the passage from the Jesuit Relations, remember that the priest writing is telling the story from only his point of view. What he thinks is happening, and what he relates about what the natives say they believe, must be compared to other sources--and the historian must also attempt to empathize with more than one side to attempt to ascertain what the "truth" of these events really means.

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