Primary and Secondary Sources
His 111: United states history to 1877
Essay #1: Summary of “Working with Sources”
When we are giving information, whether a text or speech, our knowledge must have a good basis. Using sources would amplify the quality of our message, but first of all, it is completely necessary to understand what is a source and how many types of sources exists.
First, what is a source? Oxford Dictionary says “A book or document used to provide evidence in research”. Is a very simple definition and the meaning is good enough, but maybe is a little incomplete. We cannot forget paints, archeological discoveries, music scores, jewelry, tools and so much more items. If I am creating a new definition I would say, “A source is all kind of items (documents, testimonies, objects…) that convey significant information to provide evidence in research”.
Historians use sources to get more information about the topic that he is looking for, and also gives the project credibility. The text does not focus on ideas or opinions; the roots are data and real factors.
Can we use all the sources? No, we cannot. The sources used by the historian must be analyzed, evaluated and interpreted. In addition, the historian must know the connection between the historical moment and the relation with the circumstances. People could lie when they wrote the passage; the manipulation, false testimonies, exaggeration… all this elements and more, can change the point of view of the source. That is one of the most powerful reasons why historians have to be very critical when they use sources for new materials.
To help the historian by evaluating and organizing, the sources fall into two categories: primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are materials produced by people or groups of people directly involved in the event or topic under consideration, either as participant or as witnesses. In other words, primary sources are
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