Exercises with Source Documents Exercise 1- Primary Sources: How Trustworthy of Reliable? Primary sources are records from the past. But this does not mean they can always tell you exactly how life “really was” in the past. You need to evaluate such sources carefully to be able to learn things from them. For example, one important question you need to ask of every primary sources is this:
How trustworthy or reliable is this source? In other words, can you depend on it to give you information that you can use to answer a specific essay question you have been given?
Keep in mind that a reliable source need not be accurate or truthful. An inaccurate report, for example, may still be reliable as evidence of what people believed at the time.
This exercise will help you think about the source reliability. Next to each document or source are three statements about the document’s trustworthiness or reliability. For each document, choose the one statement you agree with most. Mark your choice in the space provided. Discuss your choices in class.