代写留学生论文-原始数据 Primary Sources
Worksheet for Analyzing Primary Sources
People living in the past left many clues about their lives. Historians combine all of these clues—or “primary sources”—together in order to fashion a historical record.
What is a Primary Source? Primary sources are the original documents or materials produced by the people involved in the subject that is under historical investigation. Sources can include written and oral materials (government documents, newspaper articles, maps, memoirs, speeches, literature, court transcripts, lectures, letters, interviews), visual material (paintings, photographs, drawings), and material objects (tools, furniture, sculpture, buildings, coins); they are the main building blocks for learning about and interpreting the past, pieces of evidence that show what people thought, how and why they acted, and what they managed to accomplish.
Historians use primary sources to provide deeper, broader and more textured contexts to the events and people that they write about. Often, close studies of source material provides color and flavor to historical understanding that is absent from secondary sources (historical texts produced by scholars who did not live in the time or place of the matter under investigation, like history textbooks or a professor’s lectures—basically, a historian’s prepared presentation of his/her reconstruction and interpretation of the past). It is assumed that the careful examination of primary sources can provide clues as to how and why events took place, what actions were taken, and the significance of these events and action.
However, a clue is not “proof”; historians must also be aware of the source’s limitations and be critical of the sources available by looking for falsehoods, forgeries, errors, inconsistencies, shades of meaning, and the historical actor’s motives for producing the document, image, or object under scrutiny. In the process of sifting through materials, historians usually have some tentative conclusions already in mind that guide the search for and research in source materials.
Analyzing sources is an active process that introduces you to how historians craft history from the evidence and interpretations. Among other things, primary sources expose the historian to crucial insight into the importance of multiple perspectives on great issues of the past and present. History, after all, deals with matters that were furiously debated by the participants; interpretations of the past are furiously debated as well, among historians, policy makers, politicians, and ordinary people. By dealing directly with primary sources, historians ask questions, think critically, make intelligent inferences, and develop reasoned explanations and interpretations of events and issues in the past and present. In addition to aiding you in understanding the past, this assignment may also provide you with skills helpful in engaging with instances of evidence, event, and meaning in your present circumstances.
This exercise will help you to better understand the tasks and challenges that historians face when they strive to discover what people thought and did in the past and provide you with insight into how history’s stories are shaped by the kinds of questions historians ask, the sources that they use, and the methods (and methodologies) used to synthesize the evidence with a historian’s ideas.
Analyzing Sources: Before your work as a historian begins, ask yourself six basic questions. The answers to these questions allow you to critically evaluate what can be learned from the source under analysis:
• What is this source? (letter, diary, treatise, photograph, etc.)
• Who recorded or produced it?
• When was it recorded or produced?
• Where was it recorded or produced?
• How was it recorded or produced? Was it created through a spur-of-the-moment act, a routine transaction, or a thoughtful, deliberate process?