Hunting for History
These resources are suitable for use with pupils aged 11-16.
A series of films looking at the importance of sources and using them to investigate key historical events.
Alongside each film, there is more information about the content and suggestions of how it could be used in the classroom.
The films are hosted on an external, non-BBC platform. The BBC cannot take any responsibility for recommendations or content promoted by third party sites.
1. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin explores sources at The National Archives in Kew to discover the origins and importance of Magna Carta, which was first written in 1215.
After watching Source one pupils could be asked to explain why Magna Carta was significant. They could then speculate on what kind of monarch would have agreed to this – a generous monarch or a tyrant? The answer will soon become clear as they hear Sam’s explanation of source two. This would then lead to the key question of why a tyrant like John agreed to Magna Carta – answered by source three. At the close of the film pupils could be asked what they think might have happened next. Would John have respected Magna Carta?
2. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin explores sources from The National Archives in Kew, which provide evidence that there were strong elements of antisemitism in 13th century England. NOTE: Contains themes and imagery which are not acceptable in a modern context.
Pupils could be asked for modern examples of prejudice and discrimination that they know of or may have experienced. They could then be asked whether they think the same prejudices were around in previous centuries. Pupils could then be asked whether they feel source one alone is enough as evidence about antisemitism in the medieval period, and suggest what other sources Sam might look at. They can then decide whether they are more convinced after source two, and whether they agree with Sam’s conclusions.
3. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin travels to Scotland to look at how sources can help separate the myth from the man that was William Wallace.
This film is excellent for getting pupils to think about how historians use sources, particularly about the weight they attach to sources when they use them as evidence. Pupils could be asked to consider the possible issues with sources about any hero figure, past or present. Then, as they watch Dr Caslin analyse source one, they could be asked whether they think she is convinced by it. After source one, they could be told which sources are coming next and which they think are likely to be the more convincing.
4. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin explores what sources can reveal about the personality of Elizabeth I.
Pupils could be asked to look at images of present day prominent figures and to consider how these figures manage their image. After watching Dr Caslin analyse source one, they could then be asked to say whether they think Elizabeth was motivated by fear, ambition, or something else. After they watch source two, they can decide whether they want to change their minds.
5. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin looks at the power of historical sources to show how ordinary men and women were affected by the British Civil Wars.
Students could be asked to consider why, in 1648, most people in England no longer cared whether Parliament or the King ruled the country and just wanted an end to the fighting. They could then watch Dr Caslin analyse each of the sources, and after each one they could be asked to explain how the source was useful evidence in trying to answer this question.
6. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin looks at how sources allow historians to understand more about the life of a wealthy Welsh slave owner. WARNING: Contains historical language which is no longer considered acceptable.
Historians use sources to try to understand the mindset and values of people in the past. Students could be told a little about Sir Richard and that he was a defender of slavery. They could then be asked to speculate as to what arguments he might have made. They can then follow Dr Caslin’s analysis of the sources and see how far their speculations were valid.
7. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin visits Edinburgh in search of historical sources that explain the motivation for the notorious murder spree of Burke and Hare.
After watching Dr Caslin analyse all three sources, students could be challenged to hold an inquest into who or what was really responsible for the murders: Burke and Hare alone, or was the medical profession and the restrictions on using corpses also to blame?
8. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin explore what sources can reveal about the improvements to public health in Victorian Liverpool, and the contribution of Britain’s first Public Health Officer, Dr Duncan.
After watching the analysis of the sources by Dr Caslin, students could be asked to analyse how she made use of the sources and built an argument. They could then be asked to write a paragraph or give a short presentation in response to the question: ‘How did Dr Caslin use evidence to convince you that Dr Duncan was a significant individual, and how convinced were you?’
9. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin explores sources that reveal the remarkable success of the Dick Kerr’s ladies football team during World War One, and how women’s rights developed in unexpected, and not always welcomed ways.
Students could be asked to discuss whether they think the sources in the scrapbook are more significant as evidence about women at the time, or whether they think the fact that the football manager created the scrapbook is more significant. As a secondary question, they should also be asked whether they think the scrapbook really belongs in a museum, and if so how would they display it?
10. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin explores what historical sources reveal about how close Britain came to nuclear war in the early 1960s.
A typical question which historians debate is how serious the Cuban Missile Crisis was and whether nuclear war was a realistic possibility. Students could be asked to tackle this question using ONLY the documents that Dr Caslin has available, to build up a working hypothesis. They could then be asked to use more sources or possibly textbooks to see whether their view changes as they gather more source material.
11. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin explores what sources, such as photos and newspaper articles, can tell us about the experiences of children evacuated to North Wales from North West England during World War 2.
Students could be asked to write a short response to the following task: ‘All sources are useful to the historian’. Explain why.
12. Teacher resources
Dr Sam Caslin explores what historical sources from the 1960s reveal about deep seated changes in attitudes among young people.
Students could be asked to carefully record the source types she uses and the inferences she makes from the sources. From this they could be asked to write a short student guide to using sources in studying social history.