Learn how to analyze archival materials to learn important histories.
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Archival items, like photos and documents, let you discover history firsthand.
Following a general research format can help you find amazing histories. These guidelines can be applied to individual items or entire collections:
- What does the item look like?
- What do the physical characteristics tell you about the history?
- Are there notes or markings on your item?
Author and Audience
- Who created this item?
- Who is the audience for this item?
- Who or what is the author talking about in this item?
- Consider when your item was created.
- What was going on socially, politically, etc.?
- Does this item reveal something new to you about the time?
- What does the item say or, if it is a photo, show?
- What perspectives does this item support or argue against?
- Why do you think this item was created?
Find Similar Items
- What are the items that are in the same folder, box, or collection?
- How are they related to your item?
- How are they different?
Surprises and Questions
- What about your item surprised you?
- Why should others know about this item?
- What questions do you still have?