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Primary And Secondary Evidence


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#1 scunthorpe

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 10:22 PM

i need to know what is primary evidence and what is secondary evidence

#2 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 29 April 2008 - 10:55 PM

Remember to say please, Scunthorpe, please - everybody does on this forum.

This is a much more difficult question than you think, scunthorpe.

At your level, the answer can be taken as:

1. Primary Sources
These are sources of information which come from the time.
What are you studying? The Battle of Hastings - well the Bayeux Tapestry is a primary source for 1066, and so is the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, or the Chronicle of William of Poitiers. A axe-head dug up at the site of the battle would be a 'primary source'. They were written/made by people who were there, and they are called 'primary sources' because they form the original information base for the events. They were the first to write/draw this information, and the information comes from them.
One thing to remember about primary evidence is that it is not 'better' simply because it comes from the time. Both the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and the Chronicle of William of Poitiers, are both VERY biased and unreliable. Remember that a soldier in a battle might give an 'eye-witness account' which sounds very exciting and 'real', but he probably only saw what was going on in his section of the battle - he did not have the overview.

2. Secondary Sources
Over the years, professional historians and textbook writers have collected together all the primary evidence, and weighed and evaluated it, and patched it together to make synthesised accounts of what they think went on. These are called 'secondary' histories, because they are made 'at second hand' - the people writing/drawing them weren't there at the time; they based what they did on the primary accounts of other people who were alive at the time.
One thing to remember is that, some secondary histories are VERY careful, well-researched and unbiased. Having said that, however, not all secondary histories are 'good'. They are written long after the event, with the benefit of hindsight. They cannot be based on ALL the facts because some facts have been lost through time. And some of them are poorly-researched and very biased. Examples of appalling secondary histories are the Mel Gibson films on Braveheart and the American War of Independence (The Patriot).

2. Tertiary Histories
When you write your essays, based on what you have found in textbooks (secondary sources), you are of course writing AT THIRD HAND. It could be said, therefore, that what you are is a 'tertiary source', but by this time it's just getting silly, isn;t it!

#3 xnikitax

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Posted 02 June 2010 - 04:38 PM

what is secondry and primary evidance when it comes for an exam because i got a question saying
'what is primary evidance?' And ' What is secondry evidance?'
Please help me xx :warning: :wacko:

#4 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 03 June 2010 - 08:22 AM

what is secondry and primary evidance when it comes for an exam because i got a question saying
'what is primary evidance?' And ' What is secondry evidance?'
Please help me xx :warning: :wacko:

Just the same - read the answer above.
Primary evidence is evdience from the time - paintings from the time, government documents and reports from the time, books and letters written by people at the time, archaeological remians from the time etc.

Secondary evidence is what historians have written later - your textbook, for example.




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