Prof Horowitz, History Department, Occidental College

Form for use in analysis of a document or an image (primary sources).


When you find a document or image particularly important for a responding to a controversy among historians, try to answer as many of the questions below as you can.The most important questions are in bold.You are welcome to xerox this form; itís preferable to download the WORD document from the syllabus and then type in your responses.


Document Analysis:

Identify a document by author, title, topic of selection, time period. (In a paper, cite text you usedby endnote.)

Who? (author, group, or anonymous)?

For Whom? (intended audience or recipient)


When? (time of writing, time document discusses)

What? (topic, issue, or concern of document)

Original language?

Genre?(letter, inscription, comedy, etc.)

Tone and reliability?

Argument? (point of view of author, try to step into authorís assumptions)

Impact of document when first written?

Later impact of document?

Controversy among historians in interpreting the document and in evaluating its historical significance.


Image Analysis:

Identify a visual artifact by genre, time period of creation, artist, title or subject, original location and patronage. (In a paper, cite figure number in a parenthesis. Fine to xerox image in an appendix.)

Who (artist, creator)

For Whom? (patron and audience)




Genre? (architecture, sculpture, low-relief, mosaic etc.

Idealistic or naturalistic?

Formal/abstract or individualized?

Point of view or attitude shown by object?

Function of object when first created?

Later functions of object?

Controversy among historians in interpreting the image and in evaluating its historical significance.



In answering a history essay question or writing a history paper, give supporting historical evidence by comparing and contrasting documents or images concerning the same topic or issue.Evidence is what distinguishes non-fiction from fiction.