For thousands of years, Historians have relied on a series of methods to uncover the past that rely on primary sources. As students begin or continue to learn history, it is vital for them to have a rich understanding of how and where to get their information. Primary and secondary sources allow students and historians to take a look into the past or explore how past historical events and figures have been perceived. In order to make authentic and meaningful connections to the past, students must use primary sources to get a first-hand account of the people, events, conflicts, ideas, and themes that have occurred in the past.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
What was happening when the document was created?
"I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice."
When was the source created?
Although understanding the time the document was created is important, it is equally important for the historian to know where the document was created. Besides the country of origin, historians want to know the more specific details such as the county, village, street, house, business, or any other detail related to its location.
Once a historian knows who wrote the document, it is essential for them to understand the context in which the document was created. Historians want to know if this document was created in a time of crisis, peace, hardship, or many other factors that could impact the society it was created in.
When a document is being analyzed, it is vital for the historian to know exactly when the document was created. The more specific the known date of creation is, the more a historian will understand about the context and environment of the document.
August 28, 1963
Why was the document created?
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
How To Source a Document
Who created the document?
Historians attempt to discover the complexities behind why a document was created. Knowing that a document was created as a cry for help, declaration of war, or simply a creation of leisure, allows historians to place the context of the document in history.
From a prince to a pauper, a historian must know who was the author or creator of a document. The more a historian can uncover the background of the creator, the more a historian will be able to understand the document and the time period that the document was created in.