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[Detail] A French officer and his British ally at the front read the New York Times.

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).

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