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How do I analyse a source?

Without a pointed question, being told to just anaylise a source can be daunting.

It's important to start at the most simplistic level. What are you looking at? (newspaper cutting)(propaganda peice)(photograph)

In other words identify your source. What is it? When is it from? Who produced it? How would it have been distributed? These questions are often missed but provide an essential foundation from which to work.

Once these have been assessed, wonder why for each of these points! Why was it produced? The follow up might be who was it intended for, and who would have viewed it? Would anyone have seen this? If not - is that even a valid question to answer in your answer! For example,if the source is a private letter this wouldnt be a question worth persuing. Its important to get at the significance of the source - leaving out what is insignifcant. 

Once the broader aspects of the source have been covered, you should then get into the nitty-gritty of the source (that part that most people jump to right away). What does it say? What does it represent historically? What can we infer from that particualar quote - eg.) Russian troop order talks of lack of ammunition, so is the war going badly? what date is the source from? Much like a detective you should take your evidence and apply it to the broader context and wider knowledge of the course. 

Lastly, we could ask how this source should be treated from the perspective of a historian (is it reliable? is there a potential for bias?)

Jack M. GCSE English tutor, 13 plus  English tutor, GCSE Government a...

12 months ago

Answered by Jack, a GCSE History tutor with MyTutor


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Jack M. GCSE English tutor, 13 plus  English tutor, GCSE Government a...
£18 /hr

Jack M.

Degree: History and Ancient History (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered:History, Government and Politics+ 1 more

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“I am a History and Ancient History student at the University of Exeter. I love my History degree but I am also passionate abouta English and Politics (the latter of which I achieved the highest mark in Europe for at edexcell A level)....”

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