Evaluating Historical Sources

Topics: Primary source, Source text, Historiography, Secondary source, Source / Pages: 3 (558 words) / Published: Oct 12th, 2007
Historians evaluate sources to determine their legitimacy and reliability. Inspecting the domain can assist in determining the source of a given website. The source should always be identified and evaluated before using it when writing. With technology and the internet as advanced as it is today it is very easy to stumble upon misinformation. Opinionated websites, for-profit websites, and others may provide only one side of a given story or event. An unbiased, responsible source is much better to use.

Say for example that I was going to recount the history of any given war. I would need a variety of sources to fully support my paper. This would allow me to get reactions from both sides of the war. I could obtain information as to what led up to it and the causes that made it begin. I could obtain information as to what the reaction and recovery was in the aftermath of the war. This could be done by getting a variety of sources, books, newspapers, magazines, and the internet. If I only chose to take a few articles from the local paper that boasted it's triumphant win I would lose most if not all of the strength in my paper to fully explain what exactly happened at that war.

A Primary source is one that is the original. Secondary sources evaluate or opinionate about something else. An example of a primary source could be an autobiography or diary. An example of a secondary source could be a biography or review of something like a play or book. Primary sources are better because they are providing information in the raw, but secondary sources are equally important. For example if I wanted to know how Fahrenheit 911 effected viewers it would be nice to see the movie (the movie being the primary source) but I would also want to know what types of reviews it got and public reaction to the film. These reviews and public reactions would be secondary sources. I have found that secondary sources can also be particularly helpful in persuasive writing. If I were

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