WHM: Personal Accounts Exercise Question 2 - ?



Be the Historian!

How does the form of the personal account influence content?

Often we have several accounts of a historical event told by different people in different ways. The form—such as a letter, a diary entry, or a telegram—of the story often shapes the content and style, limiting what we can learn from one person’s perspective. The form of the account also influences what can and cannot be said.

On March 15, 1939, military forces of Nazi Germany occupied Czechoslovakia, taking over the state and creating a brutal regime that lasted until the final days of World War II. In this exercise, read two accounts of these events written by Americans who were in the Czechoslovak capital, Prague, on the day the German forces entered. Read each account carefully and ask yourself how the form encouraged the author to focus on specific details while leaving out others. When you finish, look at a modified version and compare your own reading to comments by a historian.

Read a letter and telegram