Eye-witness and secondary sources produced by contemporaries of a biographical figure offer insight into that individual's social influence and public notoriety. News sources are not, as we often assume, entirely objective. Rather they are dependent on both writer biases and by the view point of the information sources they use. Look for the following types of resources in examining how others viewed an individual at the time they were alive.
These are commentaries/opinions written by individuals who lived at the same time as the individual. These may have been published in electronic format as part of the public domain, in reference collections. More well known titles may be available at a library locally. Older titles may be available via Google Books or through the Internet Archive.
This includes documents related to the activities in which the person was involved. Try online databases that include governmet documents or governmental archives.
Images not only offer a snapshot of reality, but also provide insight into the photographer's point-of-view regarding the subject.
Available online, historical newspapers and magazines let you learn about the individual in the same way in which the public learned about them at the time they lived. These accounts can mold public opinion.
You have already noticed that primary sources also include documents produced by other individuals related to or witnessing an individual's life and actions. These accounts offer important ALTERNATIVE perspectives to hold up against an individual's own account of events. Contemporaries (i.e. others alive at the same time), provide insight into the impact or effect of what an individual said or did.
Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin
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