Benjamin Franklin

History can be presented in a variety of formats. Academic history is the term for books or articles written by professional historians for other historians. Public history is the product of professional historians for a wider public, often in museums, national parks, or other public spaces. Finally, popular history refers to the use of history for purposes of entertainment and profit. Examples of popular history include television, film, and other media representations of the past.

One of the goals of our class is to equip you with a critical eye in evaluating works of history. Your first essay assignment asks you to evaluate a work of public history based on your own primary source reading.

In between 1,000 to 1,500 words, assess the Benjamin Franklin Tercentenary exhibition in light of your reading of Franklin’s Autobiography. You may pick one of the two issues to focus your essay. Be sure to use key details from both in supporting your answer. Give your paper a title that reflects your argument.

Option 1:  How might Benjamin Franklin understand the function of public history? Some historians have claimed that public history is essential in a democracy. How does Benjamin Franklin understand democracy, and does this exhibition serve a democratic function?

At the end of your essay, include an additional short paragraph that explains why you chose the prompt that you did. (Hint: saying that one seemed easier is a terrible answer). This short paragraph should not be included in the 1,000-1,500 word count.

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