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Penn[sylvania] on the picket line-- 1917.

[Detail] Penn[sylvania] on the picket line-- 1917

Historical Comprehension: Analyzing Photographs

Search the collection using terms such as parades, picketing, watchfire, and prison special for documentary photographs of the various tactics employed by the NWP. How effective are the photographs in explaining this period in history?

Remember that a photograph is a document created by an individual and therefore reflects that person’s views. For example, photographers may show point of view by focusing on a particular subject, by taking the photograph from a perspective that diminishes or enhances the stature of the subject, or by taking a photograph that shows the subject in an unflattering light.

What questions do you think need to be asked about photographs when assessing their historical accuracy? Make a list of these questions. Then search the Teachers Page to find a photo analysis guide, and compare your questions with the questions in that guide. Did you omit any important questions? Did the author of the guide omit any important questions? Revise your list to reflect what you learned by looking at the guide.

Now use your list of questions to analyze a picture, such as the one shown below. How does using a structured approach to analyzing a photograph help you better understand that photograph?