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WHAT IS A SOURCE? A source is a piece of evidence that historians use to find out about the past. Sources can be both primary or secondary; PRIMARY: Primary.

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Presentation on theme: "WHAT IS A SOURCE? A source is a piece of evidence that historians use to find out about the past. Sources can be both primary or secondary; PRIMARY: Primary."— Presentation transcript:

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2 WHAT IS A SOURCE? A source is a piece of evidence that historians use to find out about the past. Sources can be both primary or secondary; PRIMARY: Primary sources are sources contemporary to the time studied. (From that time). SECONDARY: Secondary sources come from after the time being studied. There are four main types of questions that may be asked in the exam: Comprehension Source Comparison Reliability/ Usefulness Interpretation

3 COMPREHENSION Comprehension questions are the easiest and usually look something like this: What can you learn from sources A and B about …… What message does the cartoon in Source C give about ……. All this type of question requires you to do is to write down everything the source is telling you about the person or situation mentioned. Write down the obvious things the source tells you and keep the question in mind.

4 TEST YOUR SKILLS Practice question: What does Source A tell us about the problems faced by the US army in the Vietnam War? Source A The VC Had the support of most of the people of South Vietnam though sometimes they also forced the peasants to help them. The VC were strongly committed to their beliefs while there was low morale among American soldiers. Many US soldiers took drugs and some shot their commanding officers. By 1971 over soldiers were being treated for serious drug problems. This was four times the number being treated for combat wounds. There was also the problem of the anti-war protest movement in the USA. Many young men refused to be conscripted. Some went to prison while others escaped by going abroad. (Source: Allan Todd: The Modern World, 2001).

5 What does Source A tell us about the problems faced by the US army in the Vietnam War? VC had the support of most of the people of South Vietnam. VC were strongly committed to their beliefs. Low morale among US soldiers, many taking drugs and rebelling against their officers. Anti-war protest movement in the USA. Refusal of many young men to be conscripted.

6 COMPARISON Comparison questions usually look like this: How far do sources A and B agree..... Does Source A support Source B…… These are comparison questions. Look for similarities and differences that the sources offer to answer the question. Read carefully each line of the source and find something that either supports or opposes this in the other source. RELIABLE – Can be trusted or made use of at face value. BIASED – Gives a one-sided point of view. USEFUL – Can be used by an historian to answer a given question.

7 TEST YOUR SKILLS Practice Question: How does Source B support the statement made by President Truman in Source C about events in Berlin between 1948 and 1949? SOURCE B: Photograph taken in 1948 of Berliners watching an allied plane SOURCE C: Truman speaking in We refused to be forced out of the city of Berlin. We showed the people of Europe that we would act when their freedom was threatened. Our planes would fly in food and fuel as long as necessary. Politically it brought the people of Western Europe closer to us. The Berlin Blockade was a move to test our ability and our will to resist communism.

8 In Source C Truman claims that the US would fly in food and fuel when necessary, and that they would take direct action to help the people of Europe when their freedom is threatened. Source B supports this statement as it shows an allied plane in Berlin in The fact that the allied planes were present in Berlin at this time supports Truman’s statement in Source C that “We would not be forced out of Berlin”. Despite this though the people in the photograph appear to be welcoming the plane, and rejoicing at the sight of American aid. This supports Truman’s statement that “It brought people closer together”. The people waving openly show support for the actions of the American airmen. Source B is limited however as there are a small number of people in the photograph, therefore it can not be fully relied on. Despite some flaws Source B readily supports Truman’s statements about events in Berlin in 1948.

9 RELIABILITY/ USEFULNESS These type of questions usually look something like this: To check the reliability of a question use the following code as a guide. D Date – when was it written? A Author – who wrote it? M Motive – why was it written? Does it give both sides of the argument? Are there any exaggerated words or images? Is it one- sided/propaganda? Then you should be able to identify whether or not the source is biased. If it is biased you must explain why. The more biased the source the less reliable it is, BUT sources are never completely reliable.

10 USEFULNESS Nothing is ever useless, even the most one-sided source full of exaggeration reveals what that author thought! Strengths – What does the source tell you? Check DAM – a source which is inaccurate may be useful for revealing the author’s opinions and prejudices. Weaknesses – Can you trust the author’s statements? The source may not be useful for telling us facts. Are there any gaps in the information provided? REMEMBER – A source is never completely useful or useless. Even the most biased of sources can be useful for revealing the author’s opinions or prejudices!!

11 Test Your Skills Study the source below. How reliable and useful is the source in explaining the USSR’s role in the Cuban Missile Crisis? (8) Source: Nikita Khrushchev, ex-leader of the USSR wrote about the Cuban Missile Crisis in We increased our military aid to Cuba. We were sure the USA would never agree to the existence of Castro’s Cuba. We had to find a way of stopping American interference in the Caribbean. The answer was missiles. We had no desire to start a war. The Cuban crisis was a triumph of Soviet foreign policy and a personal triumph of my own career. We sent the Americans a note saying that we agreed to remove our missiles and bombers on the condition that there would be no invasion of Cuba by the forces of the United States. Finally Kennedy gave in and agreed to give us such an assurance. It was a great victory for us, a spectacular success without having to fire a single shot.

12 Answer: The source is written by Nikita Khrushchev, leader of Russia during the Cuban missile Crisis, and it is evidently biased in favour of a Russian perspective. The source clearly outlines the reasons why the Russians became involved in Cuba. They accuse the Americans of interfering in the Caribbean region, and that the only way to stop this was through the threat of missiles. The source omits quite a lot of factual evidence which lessens its reliability. Khrushchev has not fully engaged in discussing what happened between himself and Kennedy, and that Kennedy threatened to take action if Russia did not back down. Khrushchev claims that the source was a “personal triumph” and that “Finally Kennedy gave in”. The source is also dated 1971, which again affects its reliability as it was written nearly a decade after the event happened. Despite these factors the source is still useful as it comes from one of the main participants in the crisis. The sources helps us to understand the viewpoint of the Russian leader and it gives a good insight into just how the Russians felt about the Americans. In reality the Cuban Missile Crisis was not a victory for either side, both had to agree to work together to avert a nuclear war.

13 INTERPRETATION These questions are usually the last to be asked and carry the most marks. You are usually required to use your own knowledge and the sources. Interpretation questions usually look like this: A statement related to the event will be followed by the question. Do sources A, B, C give a fair interpretation……… When answering this type of question you need to produce a balanced and well structured response. You could structure your answer as follows: 1)To answer this question you need to both use the sources and your own knowledge. 2)Read Source D and understand what the question is asking you! Summarize what is being said in Source D and mention its date, author and motive. 3)Next, look carefully at the other sources mentioned and cross reference them with source D so as to determine whether or not the sources depict accurately the events/crisis. 4)Finally decide whether it s a FAIR OR UNFAIR interpretation: If it is fair give evidence to support your answer, for example, say the source is a balanced viewpoint, written at the time. However if it is not fair give evidence to support your answer, for example, one-sided, piece of propaganda, secondary source. 5)Remember to reach a conclusion, and focus firmly on the question.

14 HINTS AND TIPS Always read the sources and the questions carefully. Make sure you relate your answer to the question. Read and use captions underneath cartoons and pictures. Time yourself carefully. Look at how many marks a question is worth and time yourself accordingly !


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