Assignment 1Question 11.Historical evidence and historical sources Historical evidence is used to build a picture of the past. The evidence the historians need to do this is in the form of sources. A source is anything which survived from the past or which can tell us about the past. A source becomes evidence or proof if it is used to answer a question about the past. For example, looking at the picture or sign below at beaches in South Africa. By looking at the evidence or proof you will be able to answer question like “Why were there only whites allow during apartheid era? The picture shows how whites, blacks and coloured were segregated from each other. Historians can normally find some sources to help them learn about the past, but there are normally more sources about recent past for example the World War 2 thanabout the distant past for example the Khoisan people. There are also more sources about some places than others. For example, there are more sources about Ancient Egypt than there are about South Africa.Sources may be kept or stored for historians to us because someone wanted to keepthem. For example, people keep notes or records of everything said in parliament. Sources can also be protected by chance. For example, manuscripts were stolen from the Timbuktu museum. Luckily the manuscripts were recovered from help of a local man. Without this luck good luck of recovering the manuscripts, Historians would have fewer sources about Timbuktu. Sometimes sources are lost because of people who want to demolish or destroy it.
Historical sources German historian Leopard von Ranke demanded that historical writing should be based on the careful study of primary sources and that it should be fairly judged. For example, it should not influence by personal feelings or opinions. Historical writing requires research. In order to recreate the past and write the historyof a specific period, events, person or organisation, one has to gather information on that topic or subject. To gather that information, sources relating to the topic must be discussed. Any object that shed light on the topic can be regarded as a historical source. The source can be written, oral or an object. Police reports, parish registers, letters, contracts, newspapers, verbal evidence written down or taped, old machinery, a gun, a painting or a poem may all be historical sources. Historians therefore learn about the past by studying sources left behind by people who lived in the past. Historical sources are to historians what the laboratory is to the scientist. Bymeans of historical methods, the historians use sources to provide as evidence for explanations of the past. For example, San paintings and stone pieces in Drakensberg are sources used by historians to find out more about the lifestyle of the San people. The information which the historians get form these sources serves as evidence for the lifestyle of the San.