Reliable primary sources
Reliable primary sources
Primary Sources Primary sources are produced usually by a participant or observer at the time an event or development took place or even at a later date. What primary sources has the historian used? Using primary sources[ edit ] History as an academic discipline is based on primary sources, as evaluated by the community of scholars, who report their findings in books, articles and papers. The key is to think about the material being presented and to connect it to other material you have covered. Many County Record Offices collections are included in Access to Archives, while others have their own on-line catalogues. Was it a personal diary intended to be kept private? To evaluate primary sources, explore the following parts of the text or artifact by following these steps: 1. Documentaries If you are researching the causes of World War II, a recent documentary about the war is a secondary source. Most books in the history section of a library and the articles in history journals are secondary sources. Digital copies of various classes of documents at the National Archives including wills are available from DocumentsOnline. The idea here is to evaluate the logic of the argument and the base of resources on which the author relies. In religious history , the primary sources are religious texts and descriptions of religious ceremonies and rituals. They consider whether a source was created close in location and time to an actual historical event. In the UK, the National Archives provides a consolidated search of its own catalogue and a wide variety of other archives listed on the Access to Archives index. What assumptions does the author make?
Both digitized and not digitized materials can be found through catalogs such as WorldCatthe Library of Congress catalogthe National Archives catalogand so on. How was it written or made?
Most research uses both primary and secondary sources. Where was the source made?
Evaluating primary sources
For a biography of a historian, that historian's publications would be primary sources. Some digital copies of primary sources are available from the National Archives of Scotland. Monographs, professionally researched and clearly written, about events and developments in the past might also use other secondary sources. Depending on the historian's intent, some sources change their designation. A reliable text displays a pattern of verifiable truth-telling that tends to make the reader trust that the rest of the text is true also. Then read the questions for analyzing primary sources. What other sources might help answer our questions about this one? Some examples are American Memory and Chronicling America.
Locating primary sources If you are not conducting an experiment or gathering the primary data yourself, the easiest way to find primary sources is through secondary sources. The idea here is to evaluate the logic of the argument and the base of resources on which the author relies. Historians also think about the purpose of a source.
Why are primary sources more reliable than secondary
Many County Record Offices collections are included in Access to Archives, while others have their own on-line catalogues. Because of this, historians read skeptically and cross-check sources against other evidence. What assumptions does the author make? You may not be able to answer all the questions below. What questions does this source raise? Some are affiliated with universities and colleges, while others are government entities. In the social sciences , the definition of a primary source would be expanded to include numerical data that has been gathered to analyze relationships between people, events, and their environment. Manuscripts that are sources for classical texts can be copies of documents, or fragments of copies of documents. A primary source such as a journal entry or the online version, a blog , at best, may only reflect one individual's opinion on events, which may or may not be truthful, accurate, or complete. How does the use of the sources influence the kinds of arguments made? Classifying sources[ edit ] Many sources can be considered either primary or secondary, depending on the context in which they are examined. For example, the Huntington Library in California houses a large number of documents from the United Kingdom. Have they been used effectively?
Does it make sense in the context of time, place, and the people being researched? To evaluate primary sources, explore the following parts of the text or artifact by following these steps: 1.
Bias in primary sources
Is the source a legal document, an original collection of data or statistics, or a personal communication? Some are affiliated with universities and colleges, while others are government entities. Historians follow a few basic rules to help them analyze primary sources. Would the informant have benefited from giving incorrect or incomplete answers? Research Methods To produce sound historical research, we need reliable primary sources. Just as in present day, people and institutions have inherent biases that can potentially render a source unusable for your research. Historians consider the accuracy and objectiveness of the primary sources that they are using and historians subject both primary and secondary sources to a high level of scrutiny. What have others said about this or similar sources? Historians also think about the purpose of a source. How was it written or made? As a result, historians read sources skeptically and critically. Determining what sort of sources to use, and the level of credibility and reliability of those sources, is an important step in critical thinking for the historian. In the social sciences , the definition of a primary source would be expanded to include numerical data that has been gathered to analyze relationships between people, events, and their environment. The following questions will help with this process: What is it? Among the earliest forgeries are false Anglo-Saxon charters , a number of 11th- and 12th-century forgeries produced by monasteries and abbeys to support a claim to land where the original document had been lost or never existed.
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