ESSENTIAL QUESTION What methods do historians use to help them answer questions about what happened in the past?
• Primary source—something created by person who witnessed event – letters, diaries, eyewitness articles, videos, speeches, artifacts
• Secondary source—created after event by person who didnʼt witness it – books, paintings, media reports based on primary sources – appear after event and can provide more balanced view of event
• Some cultures have no written records
• Oral history—unwritten verbal accounts of events – stories, customs, songs, histories, traditions – passed from generation to generation
Historian have to evaluate their sources:
Origin – what gives the source authority?
Purpose– why did the person create the source?
Value – how is this source helpful to someone studying history
Limitation – what problems might this source have for someone studying history?
Historians have their bias (definition: An inclination or preference that influences judgment from being balanced or even-handed.)
Selection bias – What the historian chooses to include
Emotional bias – Historian can use emotion to influence understanding
In class activity: Write up your personal history-which describes you. I would like it to be about 2-3 paragraphs and should include your entire life. You must include at least three primary documents to supplement your story.