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ANALYZING A SOURCE
QUESTIONS TO ASK

  1. Document/Source

 2. Context

Who wrote the document?

What's the setting?
(time and place)

What is the author's qualifications, background, expertise?

Did the recorder have firsthand knowledge of the event? or, did the recorder report what others saw and heard?

Was the information recorded during the event, immediately after the event, or after some lapse of time?

What type of document is this? (poetry, diary, government document)

What is the document about?

Who is the intended audience?

Why was the document written?

What events surrounded the source? What's the culture like?
What are the shaping forces?

How might the context affect the content of the source?

Can one have Empathy:

· To understand the event/person in context
· To understand that the past is different from the present.
· To question how much ability to act did the historical figure have?
· To appreciate the variables/ serendipity/ luck of the situation?

  3. Bias/Perspective

  4. Significance

 What is the social position of the author?

What religion, sex, and class is the author?

What is the intent of the author?

What are the basic assumptions in the document?

Is the recorder trying to be neutral or is the recorder biased in some way?

What perspective or point of view is presented?

Why is the source biased?

What is omitted?

What are the "loaded" words? (clues to bias)

 Can I believe this document?

Is this a valid source to use?

What can I learn about the person or society that produced this document?

What does this document mean to me?

How can I validate its accuracy?

  5. Corroboration

 Comparing evidence to other sources...

Are there other sources to support this source?

Are there sources which disagree with this source? Why?

What's the same?

What's different?

What are the reasons for the similarities and differences?

Do sources acknowledge counter evidence?

Was anything omitted?

How many sources can you find?

Which sources would I choose to create the historical story? Why?