Remember to also consider who wrote the history? When? What were their purposes in writing as far as you can determine? Do they use any specific words or phrases which seem to reflect a certain bias*? Note them as you read. Pay careful attention to the introductory material prepared by the authors or by reviewers. What do these introductions tell you about the author? Follow these steps for ALL THE HISTORIES you choose to survey. Ready to read?
Go to the Source List.
Now that you have carefully reviewed both histories and taken notes, you are ready to write your comparison. First, look at your chronologies. Compare the events and persons featured in each text. Can you draw any conclusions based on what information is NOT included? Look at your notes. Can you make any definitive statements about the biases apparent in either history? Does word choice seem to play a role? How? What conclusions can you draw about the authors based on their work? About the actual events? About the historical text they produced? What have you learned about the way history is written and the interpretation of historical fact?
Note that your paper will be improved by careful focus. From your excellent and THOROUGH notes on each history choose two or three main points to compare, such as treatment of Native Americans in the history, motivations ascribed to major historical characters, or explanations for particular movements or results.
Other help can be found in "HOW DO THEY KNOW THAT?", "PRIMARY SOURCE EVIDENCE versus SECONDARY SOURCE MATERIAL", and "WHEN IS A SECONDARY SOURCE CONSIDERED PRIMARY?"
*Note that when we say "bias" we are not necessarily speaking negatively. We are not talking about racial bias, though you may decide that plays a role. We are referring to the reflection of the authors' attitudes and experiences, which inevitably affect what he or she produces in a certain way. Your job is to determine the level of bias readily apparent in the works, and draw conclusions about how that affects the way the stories are told. Does the author acknowledge his/her bias and seem to attempt to compensate for it? Or are opinions presented as facts?
For writing and research helps, visit W.W. Norton's Webworks.