How do you discover a historical source's intended audience?


when analyzing a source is important to

realize that all sources were created

for a particular individual or group of

people discovering who the original

audience was will help you understand

why the source was made and how it had

affected the creation of a source for

example the sources creator may have

used specific words or mentioned

particular events based upon who they

were writing to identifying such

decisions can help you to determine

whether a source is useful or reliable

for your historical studies therefore

knowing who the intended audience of the

source was can help you come to an

informed evaluation of it what is an

intended audience the audience of a

historical source is the individual

person or group of people who were

originally intended to view or use it

based on what you know about the time

the source was created and who created

it you need to identify for whom the

source was originally created how do you

determine the audience some sources make

it easy for you to discover who the

intended audience was because they may

specifically address them for example if

your source is a letter it might simply

begin with Dear John

in which case John clearly is the

intended audience of this source however

most of the time you'll be required to

make an informed guess regarding the

original reader or viewer the first

things you need to discover our what

kind of source it is the person who

created it and the time of its creation

determining these three things can help

you make an informed decision about who

the most likely recipient of a source

was to help you further in determining

the intended audience here are some

common audiences for specific types of

sources academic journals are usually

made for University academics and

students books are made for members of

the general public

who are interested in the topic of the

book a diary is usually written for the

creator themselves to read government

documents are created for the use of

government employees and departments

letters are written for the specific

person who is mentioned at the start of

the letter newspapers and the articles

in them are written to be read by the

general public

textbooks are designed to be read by

high school or university students

studying these specific

topic of the book and websites are

predominantly created to be read by

members of the general public so now

that you know what an intended audience

is and how to determine them let's look

at some examples to solidify your

learning the first example is a very

famous diary written by the young Jewish

girl Anne Frank she began writing in her

diary when she was 13 years old and

records her experience hiding from the

Nazis with her family during World War

two tragically Annie and her family were

discovered and most of them died while

in Nazi concentration camps as it is a

diary and only ever intended it to be a

private document and for her eyes only

there for the intended audience for Anne

Frank's diary was the author herself as

a side note even though Anne's father

eventually decided to publish the diary

for the general public the original

audience was only ever Anne herself our

second example is the Eiffel Tower in

Paris France which was built between

1887 and 1889 it was constructed for the

purpose of showing off france's

industrial skill during the 1889 World's

Fair which was held in Paris the World's

Fair was an international event at which

countries demonstrated their latest

technological achievements to other

nations during the 1889 World's Fair

over 32 million people from more than 30

countries visited the exhibition and so

the brand-new Eiffel Tower

which served as the entrance gate to the

event there for the intended audience of

the Eiffel Tower were the international

visitors to the 1889 World's Fair as an

additional note the Eiffel Tower was

originally planned to be deconstructed

20 years after the fair but it proved so

popular that it remains to this day

regardless the intended audience remains

the original visitors to the 1889

World's Fair now that you have a better

understanding of the intended audience

of historical sources I hope that you

feel more confident in your studies if

you need further explanations examples

and advice head over to history skills

calm and I'll see you next time