Interpreting Historical Evidence

Swanscombe 9

To help understand an historical source, it is important consider:

  • Who

            Who created it? This could include finding out their: name, age, gender, nationality, occupation, religious beliefs and political allegiances.

  • What

            What type of evidence is it (e.g. a document, an artefact, a photograph etc.)?

  • Where

            Where was it created? Was it found in the same place or had it moved?

  • When

            When was it created?

    • A primary source is something written or created during the time under study (e.g. a diary or photograph)
    • A secondary source is a second-hand piece of information which often uses or talks about primary sources (e.g. a text book or television documentary).
  • Why

            Why was it created - what was its purpose? A source is biased if it only contains one person's opinion/viewpoint on a topic.