Humanities

GCSE  History  Unit  3    
Exam  Practice    
Booklet  
 
 
Question  2:    
Purpose  

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Question 2: Analysis of purpose
The second question in your exam is asking you to analyse the purpose of a
source.

What is meant by the purpose of a source?

This means why was the source produced?
What is the source trying to make you think or do? In other words – its
message!

Think about the different types of source and their possible purpose…

Type of source

Possible purpose

Speeches

Because the speaker wants people to do something.
(vote/demonstrate/accept)
Usually intended to persuade people to buy
something.
For propaganda purposes – to get you to support a
certain view or turn you against the other side.
To give you a particular (often narrow and even
distorted) view of an event in order to get your
support or turn you against.
To turn you against a person or event by ridicule and
exaggeration but this can be the opposite as often
seen during WW2.

Adverts
Posters
Photographs

Cartoons

Developing purpose analysis skills
These are some activities that you could attempt outside of school to develop
purpose analysis skills:
• Look at television adverts. Try to identify the purpose of the advert. Is it
trying to simply sell you a product (a vacuum for example – Dyson) or does it
want you to help someone (give aid – Christian Aid) or stop you from doing
something (smoking – government warning ad)
What is its message? In other words, what is it saying/showing that they
think will make you buy/give/stop?


Look at newspaper or magazine adverts; try to identify the purpose of the
advert.
Listen to speeches on television; what are they trying to get you to think?
Look at photographs; those that friends post on face-book for example –
what image/message do you think they are trying to present of themselves?

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How to answer purpose analysis questions
In this type of question you are being asked to:
1. Make inferences about the source. What is it suggesting about the
person or event? What message is it trying to get across?
2. What evidence from the source supports this?
3. What is its purpose? Why is it trying to put across this message? What
is it trying to make you think or do?
4. Use evidence from the source and your contextual knowledge of the
event, person and/or who produced the source to fully explain its
purpose.

Source B: A
government
poster of
January
1940.

Message
What message is this
poster trying to get
across?
What evidence
identifies this?

Purpose
What was the purpose
of the poster?
Why is it giving this
message?

Own Knowledge
Can you use your own
knowledge to explain
the purpose of
publishing this poster?

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Study Source B
Why was this poster published?
Use details of the poster and your own knowledge to explain your answer.

Purpose planning writing grid
The following table will help you to plan your answer using the details of the poster
and your own knowledge.
The source suggests that…

The message of the source is…

I know this because…

The purpose of the source is…

I know this because the source…

I also know this because from my own knowledge…

Student marking exercise 2: analysis of purpose
These are two sample answers for the question above.

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Student C
The message of Source B is that the mothers should keep their children in
the countryside rather than sending them back to the towns and cities.
This message is put across with an image of a mother and her children in a
pleasant country scene. However, the figure of Hitler is encouraging her
to take them back to the town or city whilst the poster warns them
against this.

Student D
Source B shows a mother sitting in a field in the countryside with her
children. She is being told by a figure which represents Hitler to send her
children back to the town or city. The poster has a warning which is ‘Don’t
do it mother. Leave the children where they are’.
Try to mark these sample answers using this simplified mark scheme:
See answer at back of booklet

Level
1

2

3

Descriptor
Simple Statement
These are generalised statements without
support from source or detailed contextual
knowledge.
Supported statement.
These are statements which identify the
message of the source and give details in
support from the content or context of the
source.
Explained purpose.
Analysis of the treatment or selection of the
source content is used to explain the message
and its intention. Purpose is distinct from
message. Purpose is what the message is
designed to achieve.

Marks
1-2

3-5

6-8

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Statement  
of  Purpose  
 
Contextual  
knowledge  
to  explain  
purpose  of  
source  

Description  
of  source  as  
evidence  of  
message  

This poster was produced in order to encourage
parents (and particularly mothers) not to bring
their children home from the countryside where
they had been evacuated.
The poster was published in early 1940 after
Britain had declared war on Germany but before
any real fighting had occurred. At the beginning of
the war there was great fear in Britain of the
threat of German bombing and so the government
encouraged parents to evacuate their children to
the safety of the countryside. However, as the
threat of German bombing did not initially
materialise, mothers began bringing their children
home.

It shows a mother with her children sitting in the
countryside and the ghostly figure behind her of
Hitler encouraging her to bring them back to the
cities by pointing towards the distant city in the
background.
It suggests that the government were very
concerned that mothers were thinking of
bringing their children home - as shown by the
thoughtful expression on the mothers face,
finger to her lips - and that bringing them home
would be dangerous and only helping Hitler.

Message  
of  source  

It also suggests that the children are not only
safer in the country but are happy. This is
shown by the happy, smiling faces of the
children in the poster, content in their
evacuation.

Watch out!
When asked about the purpose of a source, do not confuse ‘message’ with
‘purpose’. The purpose of a source is the effect the person who produced it
wants it to have.
The message of source B could be ‘bringing children back the city is dangerous
and only helps Hitler’. The purpose of the source is to persuade mothers, in
particular, to leave their children where they are.

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Invariably, a ‘purpose’ question will be based around one of the five types of
evidence listed at the beginning of this booklet. These were:

Speeches / adverts / posters / paintings / photographs / cartoons
Let’s look at an example of each.

What was the purpose of this speech? (8)
Source C
This is part of a speech by Labour MP, George Lansbury, in a debate in Parliament on the
4 November 1932 discussing the new National Governments 10% cut in benefit rates.

The cost of unemployment, the £600 million or so, is a fraction of the real cost
of unemployment to this nation. There is the cost to families and to individuals;
all their savings poured out and gone. You cannot starve people (although it is
self-starvation for many now). I appeal to the Government. We think the
amounts are too low, and should be increased. It is said we cannot afford it. We
cannot afford the physical, mental and moral deterioration to the people who
cannot live on what is provided.

Purpose:
Trying to persuade the government to think again about cutting benefits to the
unemployed.

Message:
The cost of unemployment cannot be measured simply by how much you pay them
in benefits.

Own knowledge:
The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent economic depression in Britain
meant the Government was desperate to save money. However, the depression
meant more and more people became unemployed and claiming unemployment
benefit. The government felt obliged to cut benefits to cover the cost of more
people being on it.

Your turn:
Put this all together along with evidence from the source to produce an answer.

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What was the purpose of the photograph shown in Source D? (8)
Source D

A milkman delivering milk in a London street devastated during a German bombing raid.
Firemen are dampening down the ruins behind him.

Purpose:
British Government was concerned that moral would drop therefore pictures like
this were designed to raise the moral of the British people at a time of great
struggle and loss.

Message:

Despite the bombing of
homes and factories in
London and elsewhere
normal life still carries
on and people get on
with their jobs
(milkman, fireman in
background). Tea was
essential to keep the
British spirit high so the
milkman is very
important.

Own knowledge:
German bombers and V1
and V2 rockets heavily
bombed the city of
London, and other cities.
The devastation was
huge with a great loss
of life. The Blitz could
have sapped the British people of their will to fight the Nazis, particularly in
the early years of the war. The Ministry of Information knew from their Mass
Observation surveys that the bombing affected people so any pictures that
showed it wasn’t disrupting the British way of life were important pieces of
propaganda.

Your turn:
Put this all together along with evidence from the source to produce an answer.

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What was the purpose of David Low’s cartoon? (8)
Source E

David Low Cartoon, Published in The Evening Standard on May 14, 1940. Winston
Churchill became prime Minister on 10 May 1940

Purpose:
Newspaper cartoon designed to raise moral and bring confidence to the British
people at a time of great uncertainty.

Message:
That
That
That
That

the British people were behind Winston Churchill
we were all in this together
the whole country was united behind a man of the people
each of us was as important as the other

Own knowledge:
Churchill came to power on a popular wave of optimism that he would be able to
take Britain forward and meet the challenge of Hitler’s invasion of France that
had happened on the same day he came to power. Churchill never shied away
from telling the British people how it was and his speeches were often honest
and blunt. The individuals immediately behind Churchill are well known politicians
from all the political parties.

Your turn:
Put this all together along with evidence from the source to produce an answer
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Now it’s your turn to have a go from scratch!

What purpose would the artist have had in painting this? (8)

Source F

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What was the purpose of this poster? (8)

Source G: A government poster of 1940

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What was the purpose of this poster? (8)
Source H:

‘Rosie the Riveter’ Poster: A Woman Working in a Factory in World War II.
‘Rosie the Riveter’ was the name given the iconic image representing women in
the home front war effort, World War II

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Why would the censor allow this cartoon to be published? (8)

Source I:

Cartoon by David Low for the Evening Standard, dated 18th June 1940 (just after the
fall of France). The British soldier shakes his fist at the Luftwaffe bombers and the
caption reads: 'Very well, Alone!'

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What was the purpose of this poster? (8)
Source J:

A wartime poster showing an air-raid warden advising a young boy in front of the remains
of a bomb damaged building; the message below the picture reads 'leave this to us sonny
- you ought to be out of London'

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What was the purpose of this booklet? (8)
Source K:

From instructions for American Servicemen in Britain, a booklet issued by the
US War Office for soldiers going to fight in Britain in 1942.
British women officers have stuck to their posts near burning ammunition
dumps. They have delivered messages on foot after being blown off their
motorcycles. They’ve pulled airmen from burning planes. They’ve died at gun
posts and, as they fell, another girl has stepped up and carried on. They’ve
won the right to the utmost respect. When you see a girl in uniform with a
ribbon on the tunic, remember she didn’t get it for knitting more socks than
anyone else in Ipswich.

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Student marking exercise 2:
analysis of purpose Level

Reason

Student C

2

The student
gives the
message of the
source and
supports it with
evidence from
the poster.

Student D

1

The student
describes what
the source
shows. There is
knowledge but it
is not used to
evaluate the
source.

How could the
answer be
improved?
Analyse the
purpose of the
source. What is
it trying to make
people think or
do? Support this
with contextual
knowledge.
Make inferences
about the source
and explain the
message it is
trying to get
across using
evidence from
the poster.

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