Image Analysis

Photographs are accessible historical artifacts that require careful attention to detail and, according to Ferlazzo and others, a perfect way to include ELLs and struggling readers. Image analysis fosters higher-order thinking and helps students gain deeper content understanding. Learning to read images is not easy, though, and that is where a history educator can bring their expertise.

To analyze an image, help students analyze and explain the historical context, or the social value or implications, of an image. Look at the image below and use the National Archives Photograph Analysis worksheet to guide your thinking – beginning with the top question: “What do you notice first?” (You have 3 minutes!)

Now, list every detail you see by completing the middle portion of the handout – in 3 minutes!

OK, so let’s make some inferences. Take 2 minutes to complete the bottom portion of the handout. Consider: “What was the intended purpose of the photographer and who was their audience?

As we look for using the above image as historical evidence, let’s take an image-extension approach to see if we can get closer to the story.

Now …

For some extra background, the first took place in Los Angeles, California, in 1943. How does this information help you refine your initial analysis?

Earlier in the day, perhaps, these two victims might have enjoyed a leisurely walk like the men in the image below.

Does this image provide more clues, or raise more questions? [Brief Discussion]