Table of Contents

2.5.2 Historical Point of View/Perspective

Historians employ sourcing and contextualization to deeply consider an author’s background and the time and place in which the author lived (context) to better understand the point of view, meaning, and argument of a primary source.  When analyzed in this way, understanding the point of view is often called historical perspective, which Sexias and Morton (2013) define as “attempting to see through the eyes of people who lived in times and circumstances far removed from our present-day lives.” In The Big Six: Historical Thinking Concepts, Sexias and Morton provide guidance to teachers to help students in this type of primary source analysis.

Select the link that follows to see how helping students understand historical perspective/point of view is also important for meeting CA Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills.

CA Historical and Social Sciences Analysis Skills

Teaching students to source and contextualize aids in developing deep understanding of historical perspective. Students who actively engage in these strategies are more likely to ascertain the author’s point of view or purpose described in Reading Standard 6.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.6 Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Time to Read

Katherine Kipp from the History Project at the University of California, Davis summarizes Sexias and Morton’s recommendations for analyzing historical perspective in her article, “5 Guideposts for Historical Perspective.” Read her article, available on pages 9–10 of The Source: Point of View/Perspective (California History-Social Science Project: Fall 2012).

Time to View

Watch the video, “Historical Perspective,” by the Critical Thinking Consortium to view a Canadian resource designed to help students understand historical perspective. While the video focuses on analyzing the historical perspective of photographs, which are visual primary sources, the questions and concepts can be applied to reading textual primary sources.


Download transcript

Time to Extend

For more information on historical perspective, read the description and view the resources provided by The Historical Thinking Project.