The Source – the Basis of Our Knowledge

First off, the authors begin discussing what exactly a source is and discusses the various kinds.  First, they note “relics or remains” that “offer the researcher a clue about the past simply by virtue of their existence” (17).  The second source they note are testimonies which are oral and/or written accounts of an event that occurred in the past (17).   Both are noted that they were created at that time for an important meaning or a specific purpose (18).  Later, the authors note how historians use these sources/artifacts in order to gain an understanding of what happened/occurred during the time period (19).  In part B of the article, the authors discuss the source typologies such as narratives, memoirs, social documents, and diplomatic sources and get into detail regarding the individual importance of having these documents from a certain time period.  For example, they noted that having a memoir explains “the outcome of a life” and does not “record its process” (21).  Next, the authors discuss how historians do not solely rely on written evidence, but can look at oral such as stories, sound recordings, radio talks, computer files, etc. (24-25).  Also, it is important to understand that oral records “can complement the written” (26).  Lastly, the authors discuss how historians store their information in archives.  They discuss the issues with archives being destroyed in the past, but also note how beneficial archives are; they store important documents that historians have access too for research.