Overview of Skills

Overview of Skills

Information comes from the SHEG website.

The Stanford History Education Group developed specific historical literacy skills, such as sourcing, contextualizing, corroborating, and close reading, that students can use to evaluate the sources in front of them. Let’s review these skills before applying them to a source.

What is Sourcing?

Sourcing asks students to consider who wrote a document as well as the circumstances of its creation. Before reading the document, students should ask themselves:

  •   Who wrote this? 
  •   What is the author’s perspective? 
  •   Why was it written? 
  •   When was it written?
  •   Where was it written?
  •   Is this source reliable? Why? Why not?


What is Contextualization?

Contextualization asks students to locate a document in time and place and to understand how these factors shape its content. When reading a document, students should ask themselves:

  • When and where was the document created? 
  • What was different then? 
  • What was the same? 
  • How might the circumstances in which the document was created affect its content?


What is Corroboration?

Corroboration asks students to consider details across multiple sources to determine points of agreement and disagreement. To corroborate documents, students should ask themselves: 

  •   What do other documents say? 
  •   Do the documents agree? If not, why? 
  •   What are other possible documents?
  •   What documents are most reliable?


What is Close Reading?

While doing a close reading of the source, students should ask themselves the following questions to evaluate the sources and analyze rhetoric:

  •   What claims does the author make? 
  •   What evidence does the author use? 
  •   What language (words, phrases, images, symbols) does the author use to persuade the document’s audience?
  •   How does the document’s language indicate the author’s perspective?