The Montague Historical Commission will be presenting primary and secondary source documents in an effort to support a respectful debate over the future of the village name “Turners Falls.”
Primary sources are generally defined as materials from the time and place of a historical event, individual (biographical) or a broader phenomenon (eg indigenous-European interactions in the 17th C). Secondary sources are histories written after the event, including studies by academic historians and more popular narratives by non-academic writers. There are many gray areas, such as narratives written or remembered by those who lived during an event but were not actually present.
In the historical profession secondary accounts are grounded in primary sources but also contain interpretations or “biases.” Conscientious historians are open about their interpretive framework but try to place their personal views in the context of existing research. The Montague Historical Commission understands that contemporary readers might also approach these documents with a personal bias, but encourages respect for the different ways in which others look at evidence. Finally, despite the disturbing nature of the massacre, we hope that residents will enjoy reading about past times and places that were very different from our own.