This article presents beginning researchers with a methodological approach to visual analysis in historical research, with particular emphasis on the use of photographs, political cartoons, fine art, and advertisements. Offering multiple angles to reflect upon the significance of visual sources, it lays out a step-by-step approach for the critical analysis of visual documents from three perspectives: production, circulation, and reception. It gives general tips for finding historical images online and for how to bolster historical claims when visual evidence is sparse. Each section begins with guiding questions to aid in the formulation of research projects and offers suggestions for how to frame arguments around visual sources. Finally, it provides two extended examples of this analytical method using nineteenth-century American images: a Jacob Riis photograph and a Spanish-American War political cartoon.


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pp. 73-94
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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