Primary Source Investigation for History Students

As a way to both teach historical thinking/primary source skills as well as get more people to see and think about these artifacts, I developed a primary source investigation.  This has already been distributed and well-received by history teachers.  


  1. Find a photo of a location you recognize and/or are familiar with.  (Skill: cause and effect/synthesis)
    1. How is it different now?
    2. How is it similar now?  
    3. What may account for those similarities/differences?
  2. Find a photo with the year indicated. (Skill: contextualization)
    1. What was going on in the area/country/world at the time?
    2. How might the area depicted be affected by these events?
  3. Everything is an argument.  Find any photo.  (Skill: identifying POV and purpose)
    1. Who is the ‘speaker?’
    2. What is the ‘speaker’s’ purpose?
    3. How does (s)he achieve this purpose?  
  4. Choose an interview with audio.  Listen all the way through.  (Skill: identifying tone/argument)
    1. What is the tone of the person being interviewed?
    2. How can you tell?
    3. What is the main argument of the speaker?
    4. What events in this person’s life might contribute to his/her attitude?