Historic Environment Q2


Timing = 12 mins

Length = approx 2 paragraphs

This question is all about how a historian would actually use the source as evidence. It is expecting you to consider the nature, origin and purpose of the source, how reliable/unreliable it is and how all of these things have an affect on its usefulness. Furthermore it wants you to consider the content of the source and the extent and type of information the historian can get from it, including whether there are any gaps in the evidence.

Useful Questions (to ask of the source)


  • Does it give you lots of specific detail about one small aspect of medicine?
  • Does it give you a broad overview of an element of medical history?
  • Does it give you information about what people were thinking? Feeling? Doing?
  • Does it tell you about the aftermath of a great discovery or about the origins of the discovery itself? e.g. if it tells you about Jenner’s vaccination, is there a gap in the evidence because it fails to tell you how people reacted to it…?


  • Who produced the source? Was it a doctor or scientist? Does it therefore give the view of a medical person?
  • Was made by a newspaper or satirical magazine by a person with no medical background? Would that mean they wouldn’t understand the science and might accidentally or deliberately misrepresent it
  • Why was it made? Was it trying to promote a new discovery or encourage people to oppose a new medical idea? Was it trying to communicate a scientific idea to the masses or just to an educated audience of other scientists and doctors?

You must:

  1. Refer to the source
  2. Use your own knowledge
  3. Analyse the usefulness of the content of the source i.e. what it tells you/doesn’t tell you about
  4. Analyse the usefulness of the NOP of the source

Useful vocabulary = The source content is useful because… The purpose of the source was X therefore it is useful to the historian because they can find out about… Background information to the source is… In addition to what can be seen in the source… From my own knowledge I can add… The context for Source C is…