Analyzing Primary Sources

Victoria Castillo
1 min readMar 11, 2021

The approach for utilizing primary sources is different from one used for secondary sources in many ways. When looking at primary sources there are several questions one must ask. Where was this created? When was this created? Who created it and what was their position in society? Why was this created? Who was this created for? These, among others, are questions that one should apply when looking at a primary source responsibly. Questions like these are used to analyze the credibility, relevance, and validity of a specific source. Knowing all of that will better help the user interpret the significance and value of that source in respect to their research.

Truoillot’s distinctions regarding the two connotations of history are ‘what happened’ and ‘that which is said to have happened.’ These two ideas help us to think critically about primary sources for a lot of different reasons. In a written document, for example, we obviously need to think about the information presented. Next, we should analyze the knowledge the writer had and how limited it was. Another angle to look at would be if the author had any major bias or was trying to persuade a certain audience. This is of importance because any extreme opinion can effect how one should interpret the information provided in a document. There are many facets of analyzing any primary source and all should be thought on carefully.

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