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Analyzing Historical Sources

Before we dive into political cartoons, we should probably review how to analyze historical sources. Mr. Lexington taught us a primary source analysis process that’s designed to get us thinking deeply and asking questions about our sources.

Let’s take a minute to walk through each step of how to analyze primary sources.

Wait! You’re not done yet! After you’ve gone through the three steps, you can go back to step one and see if you have any new observations!

Features of a Political Cartoon

Now that we have reviewed how to analyze a historical source, let’s ask Mr. Lexington for help and take a look at those cartoons together. Mr. Lexington, can you explain what a political cartoon is?

Speaker plays audio

Features of a Political Cartoon

I sure can! A political cartoon is a cartoon that makes a point about a government issue. The Library of Congress calls them “pictures with a point.”

graphic of a magnifying blass and a laptop with the text 'Examine the website'

Political cartoons can be found in the newspaper, but you won’t find them on the same page as Charlie Brown and Snoopy comics.

graphic of a blue award ribbon and the text 'Stick with the experts'

Instead, they’re part of the editorial section, where people write about what they think.

graphic of a paper with a checkmark and the text 'Check your sources'

Like other opinion pieces in a newspaper, the point of a political cartoon is to change your opinion towards the cartoonist’s point of view.