Review It

Journal pages written by a World War I soldier

Let’s review the steps to analyzing primary source documents. Take a look at my observations, reflections and questions regarding the photograph of the miners, and compare what I wrote with your own answers.

Step 1: Observe the photograph; write down your observations.

I see a group of boys, aged maybe 10 – 12. They are wearing similar clothes. Their faces are dirty and none of them are smiling. One is eating something and two are carrying silver pails. They appear to be at an industrial or work site.

Step 2: Reflect upon the photograph; write down your reflections.

I wonder if these boys are coal miners, and if they are, I wonder if they are happy with their jobs. Maybe they all work as part of a team in the coal mine. Maybe the photograph was taken while they were taking a break from the mines to eat lunch. Perhaps the photograph was taken by their boss; perhaps it was taken by someone who wanted to make a statement about child labor. I wonder if these boys continued to work in the mines after they grew up.

Step 3: Ask additional questions about the photograph.

When and where was this photograph taken? Who are the boys pictured here? Why was this photograph taken? What was their job? How many other boys worked in the same place?

Further Investigation
(What additional questions do you have about the photograph based on your analysis of it?)

I want to know more about the boys pictured here, specifically what their typical day was like. I would like to know how many hours the boys worked, and how many days off they got each week. I’d like to know if their work was dangerous. I would like to know who took this photograph and why.