Using/analysing sources-Reliability needs to be worked out before usefulnessReliability- accuracy & truthfulnessAlthough reliability & usefulness are linked, they are NOT interchangeable. Just because a source is considered unreliable it does not mean it is useful. Ie. Propaganda.In fact its very unreliability may be what makes it so useful ie. Propaganda could hardly be regarded as reliable information, however it could be considered useful in showing mentality at that time.3rd person/past tense in writing-when trying to determine reliability ask yourself-- how accurate is the source, how truthful is the source.- Just because a source is primary DOES NOT mean it is more reliable than a secondary source.Consider that-1. a person involved in an event may be too close to it to write objectively about it.2. a person writing sometime after the event may lose some memory of it3. the person may not be in possession of significant detailsA clue to a source's reliability may be found in their content, origin & audience.Content-Reliability if content determined by the content's accuracy & usefulnessOrigin-- name of person (author's identity, nationality, status)- location from where information is taken (location of sources ie. Book, newspaper, diary)- relationship of the author to the event. Was the author an expert on event. Does the position of the person make the source subjective.- Date of the sourceAudience-- who is the source produced for- was it made for publication- private or public- consider how the audience affects what information. What may & may not be included- consider how the audience affects the accuracy of what is writtenMotive- reason/purpose of writer in producing source- motive is sometimes indicated by the tone or mood of the source- tone- language/images being used. Ie. Emotional, argumentive, optimisticBias- events in history have more than 1 view or perspective- bias source only gives 1 view where another is just as possible- author has a certain preferenceask-- is the writer an impartial observer or a deeply involved participant (look at source's origin & writer's origin)- sometimes in not being bias you have to detect what has not been said/left out.Bias can be deliberate or unintentional & thus bias effects reliabilityCompleteness- is source complete- is it damaged- any obvious emissionsTo check the reliability if evidence historians use the tests of- consistency- corroboration or supporting/adding- does the evidence contradict itself- does it agree with evidence from other sourcesUsefulness-When confronted with a question about usefulness ask yourself-- does it assist us in understanding a particular issue- usefulness of secondary source, it is a starting point- if encountered source while researching what could you do with it- can you use it to explain some aspect of the pastThe degree of usefulness is determined by its reliability. The more reliable the more useful.However, in the case of propaganda it is different- because while the information may not be entirely accurate, the source is still useful in showing propaganda.The degree of usefulness is also determined by its perspective. Ie. A soldier's diary may only give a limited perspective (one soldier in one trench, one battle) whereas a general's memoirs/biography might give a broader perspective and hence might be more useful. The broader the perspective, the greater the reliability. Historians tend to be more reliable as they are not emotionally involved & more objective. A secondary source could be more reliable than 1st hand or primary source because of hindsight.2 opposing views on the same event might be more useful than 2 presenting the same argument because there is more than 1 perspective.Photographs-- produced for a purpose- therefore may affect its reliability & usefulness.- Photos are record of 1 moment in time from one person's perspective- therefore affects usefulnessThings to consider are:- has it been posed forwhen dealing with WWI photos-keep in mind the fact that many photographs were taken by official photographers who were given specific tasks by the government & tended to be subjective.Ask yourself these questions-- what is being depicted- who took the photograph- under what circumstances was it taken, why was it takenCartoons-- aim of a cartoon is to express an attitude (opinion) about an event.- Does not present a reasoned argument, because it is too brief. So as a source it may not be more useful than a written source.- In order to understand them, the viewer usually has to have extra knowledgeAsk questions-- who is being depicted- what publication did it appear in- what event is being depicted- what is the nationality of its publication (origin)- who is the audienceIn visual sources the tone/mood of the source can be determined by the actions & appearance of the characters.Posters-Like cartoons they are deliberately published for publication. As either propaganda/advertising & are therefore bias- purpose is to encourage a pre-determined response & so the artist will use techniques such as exaggeration, emotive language, Imagery, in order to create this response.- Posters can not appeal to reason or present a balanced/logical argument because they are seen very briefly. They use exaggeration thus distorting the reliability- Propaganda posters deliberately distort the truth (present one-sided view) so are not reliable- Useful in showing attitude at the time- Posters that are less political ie. Enlistment may just try to encourage people rather than give a distorted viewMemoirs-- should be treated with caution when determining reliability- while they are account of a person's experience it is made for publicationtherefore it is unlikely that people will write badly of themselves (can justify own actions).- these writers have the benefit of hindsight. Knowing what happened after the event encourages the writer to be more objectiveDiaries, however should be treated with cautionAsk questions-- who is writing- what position they held- when were memoirs published- does memoirs match other sourcesOfficial primary source-Include-- official letter- telegrams- memorandanot meant for publicationOften used to inform & not influence, making them accurate & reliablePersonal primary sources-Include-- private diaries- personal lettersthis type of source is amongst most reliable evidenceContains information that is not meant for publication. These sources must be considered within their context- A person may not be honest in a letter to a friend ie. Letter to family from soldier may be deliberately played with (censorship).Secondary sources-Produced after event by people not themselves involved. They have an advantage of comment on cause, effect, motivation & consequences.These sources express the writer's opinion. In order to judge reliability have to assess primary sources it is based on.Has the writer considered all points of view or just based on selective evidence- provides starting point for own historical enquiry- is what somebody has already interpreted- primary sources allow reader to take greater part by interpretation.Perspective-Is the position of the creator of the source. Ie. Soldier, German, civilian, female, working class etc.Perspetive may affect reliability & usefulnessThe degree of usefulness is determined by perspectiveIe. Soldier's diary might only give limited perspective whereas general's memoirs may give broader perspectiveThe broader the perspective the greater reliability & usefulness.