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January 8, 2015 / C H Thompson

Public and historical documents

Historical and public documents are reports made by governments; companies; trade unions; schools; hospital trusts etc; therefore they can be contemporary (current) or historical (from the past).

Strengths of public and historical documents are:

  • They are more than likely the only way we can gain insights into past events
  • They allow comparisons over time for example birth; death and marriage rates
  • They are useful when assessing the outcomes of various social policies such as raising the school leaving age

Weaknesses of public and historical documents

  • The validity of the documents are open to question as they may have been written selectively
  • The authenticity of a document is open to question as it might not have been written by the person it is attributed to; therefore undermining its reliability
  • The documents content is open to misinterpretation
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