Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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America's History in the Making

Artifact Reading Method

The Artifact Reading Method introduces an organizing principle, or process, that applies the same methods historians use to evaluate source materials. Historians assess five key aspects of a source when studying the past. This same method is used throughout the text and facilitator guides, and is introduced in the Web interactive, Analyzing Artifacts.

  • Creator: Who wrote the document or made the artifact?
  • Context: Where and when was it created?
  • Audience: For whom was it made?
  • Purpose: What was the intended use of the document or object?
  • Historical Significance: How does this object affect our understanding of history?

The Artifact Reading Method was developed to help achieve a deeper understanding of whatever kind of source is being analyzed—whether it’s a cartoon, poster, or oral history recording.

This process is designed to support examination of a source, recognize its key information, and consider what that information can tell about the past. By practicing this process, one can create a connection with the past that is sometimes difficult to get from books alone, and help make history more relevant for students.

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