One fundamental aspect of man has been to discover his secrets of the past. It is within this endeavor that history has played a critical role in the presentation of critical and important glimpse into the past of human social, political and economic aspects of life. This has been made so by the application of historical evidence that still remains the most important source of past evidence. However, within these attempts to find a reliable source of historical evidence, a number of limitations have been presented. These have not only led to an array of criticism against the validity of historical evidence, it has also generated a number of concerns on the need to integrate historical evidence with other sources of evidence for purposes of the enhancement validity and clarity (Johnson, 1965). This segment of research seeks to analyze the critiques levied upon the nature of historical evidence. Towards this, various forms of evidence that are utilized by historians will be dissected and their differences analyzed.
Forms of evidence utilized by historians
There is abidance among historians that forms of history utilized by historians are divided into primary and secondary sources. According to Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (2005), "primary evidence is evidence that actually comes from the time being studied in the question." This type of evidence is that which is brought to the surface and is on display. Secondary evidence on other hand is the opposite of primary evidence and has been defined as a source of evidence that does not come from the time under study. This is a type of evidence that has been produced by historians as a source of evidence includes films and analysis of historical events.
Despite the assertion among historians that none of these sources of historical evidence is superior to the other, there is abidance in the fact that primary sources of historical evidence remain the most widely sought. The fundamental reason behind this is not particularly hard to point out. Primary resources provide first accounts of information on the historical issues under discussion. Personal diaries, eyewitness accounts of events, and oral histories are examples of primary sources of information that do not only give first accounts of information; they are prepared by someone who is either under investigation or was directly responsible for developing the sources of information.
Critiques over the Nature of Historical Evidence
Historical evidence has always been viewed and revered as the cornerstone on the basis of which civilization, economic advancement and society's past can be anchored upon. Historians as well as popular opinion have always supported the belief that through analysis of the nature of historical evidence, judgment about human past can be made on the basis of evidence. Through history, an individual acquires the requisite knowledge that shapes his believes and thinking and which prepares him for the challenges in future (Burns and Saul, 2003). In the understanding that the application of evidence forms the bedrock of research, historians must arrive at a balanced view of judgment on issues that concerns history. The first critique that has been directed towards the nature of historical evidence is that they are prone to influence and mutilation by a number of factors in process of judgment. According to Simcox (1868) and Henige (2005) "historical evidence may get revised from person to person and the accounts are not as accurate as those written down."
In regards to historical evidence, gaps are referred to the situations where the text does not connect any dot for the reader but relies only on assumptions. On the other hand, silences come as a result of the fact that textual gaps make it possible for readers to avoid questioning some specific cultural values. In historical evidence, there are important factors that gaps and silences tell us. In resent past, it has emerged that authors use various evidence to argue that the idea of nation is implicated in historical representations. These are the position of authority, films. These are two legalities correspond to the two systems pointed out in the written chronicles and the Spanish monarchy.
Another evidence to argue that the idea of nation is implicated in historical representations is racial sanctioning. Thus even with the advent of films forms of education, racial sanctioning was still very evident and the popular belief was that the races should not mix and was evidenced in such practices as Florida and North Carolina laws that allowed for the separate placement of different sources of historical evidences.
Three types of history according to Hallam (1975) "are monumental, antiquarian, and critical." Monumental history demonstrates to us the manner in which we are ought to act currently according to the past. In addition to the above, Monumental history does not appreciate specific individual but instead look at the general. Antiquarian history on the other hand deals with the past event in modern usage. However antiquarian history has several division of academic discipline such as: art history, philology, and archeology and literature studies. Critical history involves putting more consideration on the events that comes as a result of critical thinking at the expense of achieving set targets as an individual. Personal involvement as a member who analyses, give opinions, and edit the history that we learn today constitutes critical history.
From the argument that the three types of history in the past representation of Australia's history have primarily been celebrationary by Davidson is clearly convincing. This is due to the various facts in Australia's history context. Australia's history has primarily been celebrationary immediately after colonization. When analyzing the commercial activities in Australia, it is vividly depicted that economy grew strong in the service sectors in regard to goods producing industries such as manufacturing industries, forestry, mining, fishing and energy industries and all contributed to 31 percent of gross domestic products. This is exacerbated by the fact that the industries are usually accommodative, pleasant, and hospitable and a cooperative, which makes it possible to relate with. The immediate consequences of these industries in relation to social life did not suffer extreme damage that is at times irreparable. This has gained empirical backing from several researchers
Another historical evidence that made Australia celebrationary is social stratification (Harris and Ramat, 1987). The main classes such as working class, middle class and upper class simplified the control of economy in Australia. Political life which constitutes main parties such as Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Liberal Party reinforces this argument. In addition to the above, social welfare and change programs have extensively made sure that the promotion of equity and equal accesses to services for entire citizens are well put into considerations" (Ged,1978).
Nongovernmental organizations and other associations also made it possible for Australia history celebrationary.this is due to the fact that the exercise of providing relevant needs-based community services and welfare promoted changes in government policies and activities.
Through history, an individual acquires the requisite knowledge that shapes his believes and thinking and which prepares him for the challenges in future so that complications not interfere with the ability to promoted changes. In this regard, this crucial aspect of history in regard to evidence requires more than a cross referenced analysis. Biases in historical gaps and silences are best addressed by the application of different techniques in evidence analysis. However, there is a wide abidance in the fact that historical evidence remains the best source of information on the past.