A photograph captures a picture of a brief moment in time. A historical photograph takes one second of history and freezes it for us to study. Historians use photographs to provide evidence of how people lived and worked, and to be able to see what history actually looked like.
Historical photographs are often like puzzles. It’s often up to you—the historian—to figure out what’s going on in the photograph and where and when it was taken. Sometimes historians even try to identify the people in the photograph, which can be really hard! Historical photographs also help you picture a moment in the past, which allows you to understand it more. You can place yourself in the moment and imagine what happened right before or right after it was taken. Then you can ask questions about the photograph, like how someone used a tool they were holding or whether someone felt happy about their situation. Maybe you can even start to answer the questions with what you’ve learned from your teacher or in your own research!