The History Center Excursion Navigation
Pioneer Women - Be a Curator!

The Curators at Work: Photographs

Questions for the Curators

Photo of the 1880s cottage with a hammock.

Observation - What We See

As a team of curators, describe exactly what you see in this photograph. Your description should help someone who has not previously seen this image, to visualize it.

  • What people and objects do you see in this photograph?
  • How were the people dressed?
  • What was happening in this photograph?
  • Was this photograph posed or candid?

Interpretation - What We Infer

Place your team of curators into partner groups. Divide the questions below among your partner groups. When each group has formulated inferences about the photograph, convene your group and share your observations.

  1. When was this photograph taken? What was the season?
  2. Where was this photograph taken? What was the setting?
  3. When I look at this photograph it makes me think of…..
  4. Why was this photograph taken?
  5. What is interesting or surprising about the photograph?
  6. What is unique about this image that the photographer wanted to capture?
  7. Why did this photograph survive?
  8. Do you think this photograph is a legitimate historical document?
  9. Does the photograph accurately reflect anything about a way of life during this historical period? What do you know about this time period?
  10. What uses might have been made of this photograph during its initial existence?
  11. What can you conclude from your observations?

For Further Research - What we need to investigate

List the questions you will need to research in order to learn more about this photograph.


*Questions were adapted from a list written by Loren Horton, former historian with the State Historical Society of Iowa, and from worksheets on the American Memories collection.


Bottom of Journal