"History is past politics, and politics present history." John Robert Seeley

"The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you can see." Winston Churchill

"What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing." Aristotle


Historical Characteristics & Etymology

It is important to have a clear, accurate grasp of historical terminology when studying or researching Primary and/or Secondary Source material/documents. The following is an appendix of historical terminologies.




 someone or something used out of context, usually from an earlier period in history

Example: “The use of cannons is anachronistic in modern conflict”

Anachronistic language usually refers to someone/something from an earlier time or period that is used incorrectly or out of context. For example, referring to ‘Civil War bitterness’ between Fianna Fáil & Fine Gael to explain a contemporary tension between these two parties would be highly anachronistic, as the Civil War conflict of 1922 has little bearing on either of these parties today.






Opposed to impartiality and accuracy, bias is used to create prejudice and unbalanced views on people and events

 Example: “Many racist groups create biased views by focusing on cultural   differences as a threat to others”

Bias is without doubt the strongest and most persistent characteristic in all historical sources, even with the best intentions of the author(s). Bias can be either overt – clearly-intentioned by the author and easily-identified by the reader/ researcher, or, it can be covert – clearly-intentioned by the author, but disguised carefully in the wording. Bias is, most often however, a less-understood characteristic of reporting/ commenting than even the most well-intentioned writer can control. Bias often employs the use of selectivity of information, evidence & resources.




 Chronological Order

 –  The arranging of events in the order in which they occurred in time beginning with the earliest & ending with the latest.












co-existing at the same time (noun).

secondary meaning & use – modern, up-to-date (adjective)



















The actual physical remains of an event/ person/ artefact and the Primary Source reports on an event/ person/ period.


Example: “Evidence from the period of Early Christian Era in Ireland, suggests a vibrant Atlantic maritime trade culture.”































Martin Luther















Judge's Gavel















Public Opinion Pun















– A method in which some evidence is selected and some deliberately omitted

Selecting Evidence



Selectivity is a method involved in choosing evidence in which you discriminate between evidence that is or isn’t relevant, select the necessary and omitting the unnecessary. It can help your investigation by allowing you to ignore irrelevant evidence but it can also compromise your investigation if you select evidence based on a biased assumption.
























Reliability of Sources











A point of view on a given subject(s) and/or event(s), usually with an element of subjectivity.

Example: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom-fighter.”


Perspective is crucial to understanding opinions, motives and ultimately all  actions of individuals and organisations. It is also crucial in the study of History to ascertain the point of view, with all its inherent biases, of the author of an article/ journal/ newspaper.







Primary Source



Primary Source














US Recruitment Poster















Secondary Source



Secondary Source










This link directs you to a very useful site where you can test your understanding of historical terminologies – http://www.schoolhistory.co.uk/quizzes/terminology/terminology.htm

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