Evidence is the information gathered from historical sources. The concept of evidence is an essential part of historical inquiry. Evidence can come from many different sources; for example, interviews and accounts from people who lived at the time, letters, diaries, films, maps, newspapers, buildings,
paintings, photographs, song lyrics, nursery rhymes, clothing, photographs and even cartoons. But how do we use these sources to piece together the story of the past? We can make an educated guess (called a hypothesis) and then look for evidence to support it. Evidence can be gathered from two types of sources:
• primary sources – objects created or written at the time being investigated, for example during an event or very soon after. Examples of primary sources include: official documents, such as laws and treaties; personal documents, such as diaries and letters; photographs or films; and documentaries.
• secondary sources – accounts about the past that were created after the time being investigated and which often use or refer to primary sources and present a particular interpretation. Examples of secondary sources include: writings of historians; encyclopaedia entries; documentaries; history textbooks; films; illustrations; reconstructions and websites.