ABSTRACT

Many historians regard documents as being the true material of their subject, and the evaluation and interpretation of them as the heart of their professional province. While there are so many general things to be said about documents, their types, and their uses, indeed, even their identity, that large volumes can be written about the subject, this chapter introduces a few aspects. They are the general matter of what a document is, how one is evaluated, the ways of bridging from oral to written evidence, and the uses in local studies, of certain named categories of document derived from the last 100-150 years. However, evaluating documents is an important part of studying history, since upon the evaluation depends the credence and weight to be given to any data which one may extract therefrom. Documentary verification can best be illustrated with some real examples: Ada Chard, a railway story and mother-in-law's story.