History is not just discovered. We don't just dust off old documents and, through them, know exactly what happened. The historical record is not complete. We do not have evidence that documents the perspective of all peoples in history. Moreover, our histories of the past are constructed through a process of interpretation. We decide what facts are relevant and irrelevant in our histories of the past, and we decide what makes those facts important. Because history is at heart an interpretive endeavor, historians arrive at different conclusions based on the same set of evidence.
Exhibits in libraries and museums, like the exhibit at D. H. Hill Library at North Carolina State University in 1960 pictured on the left, present historical artifacts along with a curator's intepretation. Exhibits on this site analyze the history of North Carolina in the Civil War era by drawing upon primary and secondary sources in the collections. In presenting this interpretation along with links to the primary and secondary sources, these exhibits highlight the constructed nature of history. Visitors may compare their own analysis of the sources with the exhibits' and may reach their own conclusions.