Primary Source Analysis Worksheets

Primary Source Analysis Worksheet - Documents

Use one of these documents for this exercise, or another of your choosing.

Look at the document and answer the following questions:

1. What type of document is it? (for example, letter, report, newspaper article, memorandum, press release)
2. Does the document have any interesting physical features? (for example, handwritten notes, stamps, interesting letterhead)
3. What is the date on the document, if it has one?
4. Who wrote the document? Can you learn anything about this person from the document - for example, his or her job title or interests?
5. Who was the audience for this document?
6. Why do you think it was written?
7. What evidence in the document helps you know why it was written? (Quote from the document.)
8. List three things about the document's contents that you think are important.
9. List three things the document tells you about Seattle at the time it was written.
10. Write a question to the author that is left unanswered by the document.

Adapted from the National Archives

Primary Source Analysis Worksheet - Photographs

Use one of these photographs for this exercise, or another of your choosing.

Study the photograph for two minutes. First, look at the overall image; second, divide the photo into four sections and study each section to see if you notice new details.
1. What do you see in the photograph?

People Objects Activities

2. Based on what you see, list three things you might infer from this photo.
3. What is the date of the photo?
4. If you didn't know the date, what clues in the photo could help you guess when it was taken?
5. Why do you think the photographer took this photo?
6. What questions does the photo raise in your mind?

Primary Source Analysis Worksheet - Maps

Use one of these maps for this exercise, or another of your choosing.

Look at the map and answer the following questions:

1. What kind of map is this?

__ Street map __ Political map
__ Topographical map __ Natural resource map
__ Property map __ Other
__ Thematic map (theme: ____________)  

2. What physical features does the map have?

__ Compass __ Scale
__ Handwritten notes __ Title
__ Name of mapmaker __ Legend/key
__ Color __ Other: ____________

3. What is the date on the map, if it has one?
4. What person and/or agency created the map? Can you tell where it was produced?
5. Why do you think the map was created?
6. What users do you think the mapmaker had in mind when he or she created this map?
7. Are there any associated documents to this map that would help provide context for its creation?
8. What does this map tell you about land use? Past use? Potential future use?
9. List three things in the map that you think are important.

Adapted from the National Archives