Historical Terms - Questions to ask of a source
A historian will ask a variety of questions in order to find out historical information about a source. The same questions can be asked of either a Primary Source or a Secondary Source. There are six key questions to ask:
WHO? WHERE? WHAT? WHEN? HOW? WHY?
Listed below are a selection of questions that might be asked of a source by a historian. Please note that not every question will be used for every source.
WHO made it? WHO used it? WHO is in the picture? WHOSE opinion does it show?
Who made it? The Romans in AD 45
Who used it? The Romans
Who is in the picture? The head on the coins show who was emperor.
Roman coins made by the Romans in AD 45
WHERE is it? WHERE was it? WHERE was it made? WHERE was it used?
Where is it? It is in the Louvre art gallery, Paris.
Where was it? It was in Italy. It is now in the Louvre gallery, Paris
Where was it made? It was made in Italy by Leonardo da Vinci.
Where was it used? It was used to hang on a wall for decoration.
The Mona Lisa - Painted by Leonardo da Vinci in 1506
WHAT is it? WHAT is it for? WHAT does it say? WHAT was it used for? WHAT does it show?
What is it? It is a book about the Tudors.
What is it for? It is for people to read/ find out about the Tudors.
What was it used for? It is still being used.
What does it show? It shows that people are interested in the Tudors.
A book about the Tudors written in 1999.
WHEN was it made? WHEN was it used? When does it show?
When was it made? It was made in 1215
When was it used? It was used in 1215 to force King John to grant concessions to the barons.
When does it show? It shows the feelings of the barons in 1215.
A piece of the original Magna Carta
signed by King John in 1215
HOW was it made? HOW was it used? How has it survived?
How was it made? It was made in a factory - there may be a stamp on the base of the mug that gives details of the factory or potter.
How was it used? It was/is used for people to drink hot beverages from.
How has it survived? It has survived because it was made this year.
A mug made in 2009
WHY was it made? WHY has it survived?
Why was it made? Because people like Van Gogh paintings and because there is only one original painting; posters like this enable many people to see art.
Why has it survived? It has survived because it is fairly new and has been looked after.
A poster of a Van Gogh painting made in 1985
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and secondary sources
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