Media Resource

Ask an NEH Expert: Historical Significance

Shatavia Elder, Vice President of Education at the Atlanta History Center (Atlanta, Georgia), offers advice on the importance of historical significance when writing about a topic, event, person, or era. The video includes materials available at the Atlanta History Center that show how researchers can evaluate historical significance across time.

This video is one in a series about historical research and writing developed through a collaboration between the National Endowment for the Humanities and National History Day.

Questions for Analysis and Comprehension

These questions can be used before viewing the video to brainstorm ideas and review the concepts discussed in the interview, or after watching as a way to reflect on the interview.

1. What makes a person, event, or place historically significant?

2. What must historians and researchers consider when evaluating cause and effect?

3. To what extent can analyzing the outcomes of past events inform our understanding of contemporary events and issues?

Interview Questions with Timestamps

1. What is historical significance? (2:27)

2. What are the differences between short-term and long-term consequences or impacts of historical events? Why do we need to consider both when studying history? (3:40)

3. What questions should researchers consider when analyzing the short-term impacts of historical events? (6:10)

4. What questions should researchers consider when analyzing the long-term impacts of historical events? (6:40)

5. What resources are available at the Atlanta History Center to help us study the short and long-term consequences of historical events? (7:17)

6. Why are conclusions crucial to research projects? (12:52)

7. How does a good conclusion enhance an argument? (14:17)