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Our Historical Skills

Our Historical Skills


We learned a lot of skills which historians have to use.  At the beginning of our study we visited the Barking and Dagenham Archives in Valance House.  Here we used map reading skills to find out about how our estate was bombed during World War II.  The archivist showed us how we had to use gloves when touching old documents and we were only allowed to bring pencils in so that we wouldn’t accidently damage the archives.  We also used our skills from Geography and had to come up with a colour key to tell people what sort of damage the houses had had.


When we went back to school we learned how to match up information from different sources.  The maps had told us that the school had possibly been hit by a bomb.  We searched in the school log books and found that, on1 October 1940, an unexploded bomb had been found in the school.  We enjoyed using these secondary sources of information.



On our next day we learned all about oral history.  We had to work on coming up with open questions for our interviewees and worked on how to actively listen to peoples interviews.  This was important so that you didn’t miss any important information.


We discovered how it was important to make your interviewee feel comfortable by asking them some easy questions at the beginning.  We found some of the interviewees struggled to answer our questions because it brought up difficult memories for them.  This helped us to develop our understanding of empathy.  We tried to understand why they were feeling like this and reassure them that it was ok.


It was also our first time using professional Dictaphones.  We had to practise recording by interviewing each other before we actually carried out our interviews.  It was also an opportunity for us to work on our team skills.  We shared out the work but when someone was stuck with their role we helped them.