Primary and Secondary Sources
Using evidence to learn about the past
A stained glass
window in the
Cathedral at
Chatres.
What is History?
Read pages 4-6
in Humanities
Dimensions 1:History
Answer questions 1 & 4
Clay tablets showing training activities for
Sumerian scribes. Students learnt
mathematical tables, wrote essays and
Completed accounting exercises.
Primary sources
A primary source is a piece of evidence that
originates from the era being studied. It is not
necessarily a piece of writing.
Brainstorm examples of items that are
reflective of a particular era;
Books
maps
crockery
CDs
toys
photos
Clothes
phones
newspapers
Advantages of primary sources
The advantages of learning about history
from a primary source are:
1. it’s a real item from that time
2. Unbiased
3. Has not been interpreted by others
4. Reflects the sources and thinking of that
time
Disadvantages of primary sources
Despite the fact that primary sources are
from the time being studied there are some
problems when relying on primary sources:
1. Primary sources can be difficult to find
2. Sources can be fragile or broken
3. Some items may need to be interpreted
4. Interpretations can be biased or illinformed
Disadvantages of Primary sources
Example
In this magazine cover image
released by Newsweek, a computergenerated image of Princess Diana
is shown with Kate Middleton on
the cover of the July 4, 2011 issue
of Newsweek magazine. Diana was
killed in a car accident in 1997 and
would have turned 50 on Friday. In
April, Middleton married Prince
William, the oldest son of Diana
and Prince Charles.
Secondary Sources
Like a primary source, a secondary source is a
piece of information, however it does not
originate from the time in question. A secondary
source gains its information from historians and
primary sources to provide us with accurate
historical knowledge. Examples include:
Text books
encyclopaedias
internet
magazines
movies
models
documentaries
replicas
Advantages of secondary sources
The advantages of using secondary sources:
1. They give us information that has
already been interpreted
2. They give us information about a time
or place that we cannot visit.
3. They could allow us to learn about
objects by replicating them as we cannot
access fragile or unique items
Disadvantages of secondary sources
Wikipedia is a very popular and easy
to access internet site.
changed
Wikipedia is written collaboratively
by largely anonymous Internet
volunteers who write without pay.
Anyone with Internet access can
write and make changes to
Wikipedia articles (except in certain
cases where editing is restricted to
prevent disruption or vandalism).
Users can contribute anonymously,
under a pseudonym, or with their
real identity, if they choose.
Source: Wikipedia:about
Disadvantages of secondary sources
example
While there are many advantages to using
secondary source we must be aware of
the disadvantages as well.
1. It is secondhand information and may
not be reliable due to various
interpretations
2. There may be a bias: “history is written
by the victor” (source:Winston Churchill British Prime Minister)

Activity
Use the cards to determine if the pictures
are primary or secondary sources.
Evaluating the sources
Evaluating sources—
strengths and weaknesses
Here are some questions that are useful to ask when
evaluating primary and secondary sources:
• Who is the author? What is known about him/her?
• To what extent is this source a personal account
reflecting only the author’s experience?
• How much was experienced directly by the author,
and how much heard about second- or third-hand?
• How much of the source is fact and how much
opinion?
• Is there any evidence that this source is inaccurate or
presents an incomplete account of events?
• When was this source produced? Was it days, weeks,
months, years, decades or centuries after the event/s
it narrates?
• Why was this source produced?
Source: Humanities Dimensions 1: History pg 17
The Rosetta Stone was originally
thought to be pitch black. The
British Museum has discovered
that the first historians to
examine this covered it in ink.
Bias
When written material reflects an author’s values and
attitudes, it is said to be biased. There are many types
of bias. Some examples are:
• class bias—the point of view reflects an economic position, for
example an aristocrat’s view of slaves and slavery
• geographical bias—the point of view reflects where the author
comes from, for example an ancient Corinthian’s view of the
Persian Empire
• gender bias—the point of view reflects gender, for example a male
writer’s view of women
• religious bias—the point of view reflects religion such as a Roman
polytheist’s (someone who believes in more than one god) view of
Christianity.
Source: Humanities Dimensions 1: History pg 19
Bias
Bias is when someone has an
______ opinion about something. We
can recognise bias by finding
__________. Bias is useful to us, as it
helps us find out a person’s ______ or
_________ .
If someone _________ a particular
football team, they are likely to
___________ bias when describing a
match. Everything their team does
would be described as _________,
but everything the opposing
team does would be described as
________or _________.
WORD BANK
Unbalanced
Opinion
Fantastic
Opinions
Show
Terrible
Beliefs
Unfair
Lucky
Supports
Source: By Mr Field
www.SchoolHistory.co.uk
Spelling List
There are many new words that we have
encountered while learning about primary
and secondary sources. As a class create a
list of spelling words of terms that relate to
primary and secondary sources.
Sources
bias
advantage
Secondary
opinion
disadvantage
Primary
history
Gender
magazines
Download

Primary and Secondary Sources