Questions to Ask of Any Primary Source Document


  1. Who is the Author, what did s/he do in society?
  2. When was it written and what are the historic circumstances of its composition?
  3. What form is it written in? ( Is it an article? A speech? A poem? A movie?)
  4. Who was the intended audience?
  5. What are the consequences of that chosen audience?
  6. What technology, if any, is discussed in the document? What was the technology used for and how has that technology been replaced in today’s world?
  7. What purpose did the author have in writing this document? (How do you know?)
  8. Where was the document written and where (and how) was it published or disseminated?
  9. How does evidence from this document fit into or alter your understanding of the period?
  10. How does this primary source differ from what other primary sources say about the topic, or, for that matter, what the secondary sources say about it?