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Archives activities

Photo Analysis Activity


  • Overview of OnView, including archival silences discussion (20 minutes)  

  • Photograph analysis activity (40 minutes) 

    • Individual and small group analysis of material 

    • Reporting out to larger group 

    • Discussion of larger themes 

  • Wrap-up and Q&A (5 minutes) 

Learning Outcomes


Take 20-25 minutes to think about the following questions when looking through your photos

  • Start by listing the things you see in your photo (chart below)
  • Who took the photos? Why? When?  
  • What do you think the topic of the photo is? Any other conclusions you can make based on what’s captured?  
  • What does your photo add to the historical record that couldn’t be found elsewhere? 
  • What other primary source materials would you want to look for at the WVRHC to research the photos more?





Think-Pair-Share Activity

On your own, look through the material at your seat. Questions to consider when reviewing your material:
  • Describe the physical attributes: 

    • What are the first things you notice? 

    • Is it handwritten/handmade? 

    • Is it printed? 

  • Who created the item? 

  • When did they create it? 

  • Why did they create it? 

  • Who is the intended audience? 

  • How does it fit into your understanding of the subject matter? 

  • How does the creator’s position fit within the context of the era or event?

    • Why might they have taken this position?

  • How does this all enhance your understanding of this historical event/era?

    • What does it add to the historical record that couldn’t be found elsewhere?

After 20 minutes analyzing your material, talk with your partner to compare and contrast your assemblage of material. Designate a recorder, who will write down your groups findings and a speaker, who will report out to the larger group. We'll talk about larger themes found in the material and how they relate to your class and the research process.

Pre-Session Activity/Remote asynchronous activity

This activity is a short introduction to primary source literacy and the WVRHC. It can be used in advance of a session at the WVRHC or as a stand-alone activity.

Primary Sources research skills activity