Analysis of Historical Documents
Duration: two 60-minute periods
Examine the question of Acadian neutrality by analysing the oaths of allegiance sworn by Acadians before and after the Deportation.
- Present the intended learning results.
- Present the proposed activity:
- After the Treaty of Utrecht was signed in 1713, Acadie became a British possession. The British authorities then demanded that their new subjects take an unconditional oath of allegiance to ensure their loyalty, but the majority of Acadians refused. Instead, they proposed to swear a conditional oath of allegiance in which they declared themselves neutral.
- At the time, it was not uncommon for the British Crown to demand that all their subjects renew their oath of allegiance, especially when a new monarch took the throne. Each time, however, to the great displeasure of the British authorities, the Acadians would put forth their neutrality.
- The subject of the oaths of allegiance remains delicate and is often regarded as one of the causes of the Deportation in 1755. For the Acadians who returned in Nova Scotia after 1764, oaths of allegiance were again required and an essential condition of their return.
- Start-up question:
- How did the Acadians' oaths of allegiance to the British Crown change before and after the Deportation? Comment on the concept of Acadian neutrality in regards to these changes.
- Essential elements to the proposed analysis:
- The following historical documents:
- The oath of allegiance taken by the Acadian delegates of the Annpolis-Royal region, Nova Scotia, on January 22, 1715.
- The legal document that was the oath of loyalty to the British Crown, signed by certain Acadians in 1768.
- Example of a comparative chart (available to the teacher only).
- Chart for using historical documents (available to the teacher only).
- Ask the students to complete the task:
- How to answer the start-up question: in order to show the different conditions inserted by the Acadians and the British in the two oaths of allegiance studied here, the students must make a comparative chart and analyze the oaths of allegiance. They must:
- Study the historical documents. The chart for using historical documents can be used at the discretion of the teacher.
- Make a comparative chart.
- Write a summary of the result.
- To complete the proposed analysis:
- Before starting the activity, the student can consult the History section , particularly sections 2 and 8, to learn more on the oaths of allegiance, Acadian neutrality and the historical context.
- Demonstrate with the chart for using historical documents, how to analyze the documents (oaths) or do the analysis in class.
- Demonstrate to introduce the comparative chart.
- Write a detailed answer to the question by using the facts collected.
- Go over the answers in class.
- At different times during the analysis, draw the students' attention to the historical method used for the analysis:
- What are the elements of the historical method used to analyse the historical document and the comparative chart?
- Define the problem and clarify the research question.
- Document analysis in order to identify the historical elements necessary for the answer.
- Make the students see what is missing for them to complete the task.
- Critique the information.
- Make the student realise what he/she has learned and the method that has led to this new knowledge:
- Does the student have the impression that he/she has accomplished the task and has learned something (knowledge and method)?
- Ask the student to propose other strategies to present the information collected.
- Question the students on their method:
- Had they ever used the historical method before?
- Would they be able to use it again?
- Does it allow them to understand certain contemporary situations?
Essential and optional resources
- Historical documents:
- Oath of allegiance taken by the Acadian delegates from the Annapolis-Royal region, Nova Scotia, on January 22, 1715
original | transcript (PDF | HTML)
- The oath of loyalty to the British Crown, a legal document signed by certain Acadians in 1768
original | transcript (PDF | HTML)
- Chart for using historical documents (PDF | HTML)
- Example of a comparative chart (PDF | HTML)
- Web site: 1755: The History and the Stories