Historical Research Capabilities: Asking Historical Questions
The historian’s work begins with questions. Often, these inquiry questions spring from encounters with intriguing historical sources. The questions may relate directly to the document: What is this document? What does it show/say? Who created this document? Why did that person create the document? When was the document made? How is the document being used? The document may also stimulate probing questions about its subject matter: What event, issue, or decision is depicted or represented in the document? Who was involved in this event, issue, or decision? Why did this event happen? Why was this decision made? Was the issue resolved? What impact did the event, issue, or decision have?
Below are listed several very different historic documents from the Newspaper Pictorials collection. Choose one of the sources and develop a list of historical questions based on the document but requiring additional research to answer. Select one question and conduct further research in order to answer the question; you may use other primary sources (e.g., materials from the American Memory collection), secondary sources (e.g., a textbook or historical essay), and expert opinion (e.g., your history teacher, a history professor at a local college, or a museum curator).
- “The Bulldog of the British Navy After the North Sea Battle of May 31.” New York Tribune, July 11, 1916 .
- “Historic Documents Which Marked the Beginning of Our War with Germany.” War of the Nations, December 31, 1919 .
- “The ‘Dogs of War’ in Active Service in Battle Zone.” War of the Nations, December 31, 1919 .
- “The Far-Flung Battle Line of the United States.” War of the Nations, December 31, 1919 .
- “Geography and Chronology of the Great War: North and South America.” War of the Nations, December 31, 1919 .