Sources Historians Use

primary source

A document which was written or created during the time under study.

Example of primary source

Declaration of Independence

Weakness of primary source

Typically comes from people in positions of power

Strength of primary source

Easy to decode

Material culture

Evidence of alteration by humans

Examples of material culture

Music, grave treasures and recipes

Strength of material culture

Can be used to learn about virtually every aspect of human life.

Weakness of material culture

Can be difficult to share with other historians

Oral history tradition

Stories that are passed down from generation to generation.

Oral history interview

Used by families and organizations to preserve history and maintain archives of people and their stories through interview

Strength of oral history interview

The "most human" historical source

Weakness of oral history tradition

The story can change over time.

Strength of oral history tradition

Preserves the most important pieces of culture.

Weakness of oral history interview

Only applies to relatively recent historical events.