Primary Sources and Critical Thinking The study and interpretation of history takes place on hotly contested terrain. It is not at all unusual for two competent historians to arrive at strikingly different conclusions while examining the same historical evidence. The process of arriving at those conclusions through disciplined interrogation of the available sources lies at the heart of the historian’s work. Effective historical analysis therefore requires the student to use available evidence to arrive at independent conclusions and shape an understanding of the past. As a critical analyst, you are expected to question the sources as you develop your arguments about issues and problems faced by the men and women of previous generations. While you strive to be objective in your examination of the sources, it is important to recognize that other readings of the evidence may lead some history students to arrive at conflicting interpretations. The reasoned development of these differences is the heart of the analytical process we call “historical thinking.” You will become more comfortable with uncertainty as you work to support your view of the past with a combination of logic and evidence.