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Analyze It!

Mason’s Fun Fact! Did you know that video games got their start in New Hampshire? Ralph Baer, an engineer for BAE Systems who lived in Manchester, invented the first video game console, which was called the “Brown Box.” It allowed people to play games on a television screen. He is known as the “father of video games.”

History isn’t just memorizing facts and dates. It’s figuring out what happened and why. It’s being a detective of the past and solving mysteries. It’s answering questions and building an argument that you can defend with evidence. And that evidence comes mostly from primary sources like photographs, documents, maps, and objects. Primary sources are the records of the past that people leave behind. If you know how to “read”—or analyze—them, then you’re on your way to thinking like a historian! 

Learn to Think Like a Historian

Interpreting Photographs

Interpreting Photographs
A photograph captures a picture of a brief moment in time. Historians use photographs to provide evidence of how people lived and worked, and to be able to see what history actually looked like.

Interpreting Maps

Interpreting Maps
Maps are visual representations of the world around us. They show us where we are in relation to other things. They can also show us how the world around us changes over time.

Interpreting Documents

Interpreting Documents
By looking carefully at documents, historians can learn a lot about the past, about the story of people’s lives, and about what they thought of the world around them.

Interpreting Objects

Interpreting Objects
Think of all the objects you use every day—the chair you’re sitting in, the clock on the wall, the clothes you’re wearing. These are all objects. Objects can tell us a lot about someone's life.

Interpreting Audiovisuals

Interpreting Audiovisuals
Audiovisual records offer a chance to hear famous words as they were first spoken or watch video footage taken of an event from the past.

Interpreting Timelines

Interpreting Timelines
Historians use timelines to illustrate change over time, make connections between important people and events, or show related events over a particular span of time.