Obtaining Data from Historical Sites

Some historical sources allow for the obtainment of data that can be displayed in
statistical tables, charts, maps or pictures. This assignment asks you to analyze a
historical table (see below). In essence, what I am asking you is to express what the
table is about, what data or perspectives it contains, and how it is related to the
readings of the course.
1697-1705 1768-1772
Total value
of exports
Value of
exports per
Value of
exports per
free capita
Total value
of exports
Value of
exports per
Value of
exports per
free capita
West Indies 608,279 0.34 18.43 3,910,600 8.16 86.9
Lower South 11,870 0.72 0.87 551,949 1.60 2.91
Upper South 217,062 2.21 2.55 1,046,883 1.61 2.63
Middle Colonies 15,065 0.28 0.30 526,545 0.95 1.01
New England 31,392 0.34 0.35 439,101 0.76 0.78
Table 1. Average yearly value of commodity exports by British colonial region
(pound sterling). Source: Galenson (1996).
You can follow this five-stage process (you do not need to specify each stage in
your text).

  1. Description and main idea. What do you see? What is that table about? What
    does it contain? What is it telling us? Remember that its title not always gives us
    evidence about the main idea (and sometimes it is even misleading). For instance:
    a table displaying the distribution of the active population by sector in the US
    between 1800 and 1900 is not just telling us about the “distribution of the active
    population”, and not even about the effects of the civil war or the Industrial
    Revolution in the States. It is telling us about the structural change that took place
    in the US economy as a result of certain events.
  2. Context. Where and when? How can you relate the place and the period to the
    main idea?
  3. Analysis. What? How? Why? Let’s connect what we see to what we know. This is
    the most important part of your analysis. Explain the facts, causes, consequences,
    and implications of a phenomenon. You can develop your argument with the
    support of the course material (references, figures, etc.). It is time to show what
    you have learned by studying Economic History.
  4. Conclusion. You will have to emphasize the most relevant features of your
    interpretation. Be concrete and get to the point.
  5. Citation of Sources. It is crucial that you cite your sources properly. Be sure you
    understand what plagiarism is and how to avoid it.
    Students are reminded of the UBC Policy on plagiarism – see
    www.library.ubc.ca/home/plagiarism/-. We take academic integrity very
    seriously, and therefore have no hesitation in passing along suspected cases of
    plagiarism to the academic authorities for disciplinary action.
    The maximum length is 1,000 words including title, name, student number,
    footnotes and references. Exceeding this limit will carry a 20% deduction. Also,
    please ensure that your text is double-spaced.
    You will have to hand in a hard copy to the instructor, to the TA or to the
    department office by March 27 at 4:00 pm. Assignments submitted in the
    subsequent 24 hours will carry a 10% deduction. Assignments submitted after
    4:00 pm on March 29 will receive a grade of zero.
    Grading scheme
    The grading scheme will be as follows:
  6. Description and main idea, up to 20%.
  7. Context, up to 20%.
  8. Analysis, up to 40%.
  9. Conclusion, up to 10%.
  10. Citation of sources, up to 10%.
    (A total of 100% will be equivalent to 15% of the final grade for the course)