The Library of Congress has a fantastic tool online that lets students follow three basic steps to analyze primary sources: observe, reflect, and question. The tool allows students to record their responses to primary sources given by the instructor in a clean, easy-to-use format.

The process of using the tool is simple. First, students select what type of primary source they are working with from a host of options:

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Then, students input their responses to each section, using the ? button for hints and prompts to guide them:

observer

Once they finish responding, students can download as a PDF, print or email their responses when they are finished at the bottom of the screen. They can also add a title, the date, and their names to help delineate their responses from those of their peers.

I think this tool is a fantastic way to encourage students to begin dissecting primary sources. Often students get stuck with how to tackle historical document and artifacts, and this tool provides guiding questions and helpful hints on how to begin that process.

Happy analyzing, y’all!

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