How to Analyze Evidence

Primary sources are bits of evidence that show what people did, believed, or said in the past. 

Historians piece together many primary sources from a time and place to figure out how and why things happened the way they did. 

It’s important that historians know if an object provides information about the topic they are investigating. Just like detectives, historians examine each source to make sure it provides reliable information about the event. 

Here are some questions to help you figure out if an item from the past is a reliable primary source for your topic:


  • What year was this item created? 
  • Was it created during the time period you are investigating? 


  • Where was this item created?
  • Is it from the place you are investigating?


  • Who created this item?
  • Did they experience or observe this event as it happened? 


  • Is this item relevant to the topic?
  • Does this item tell you something about the topic?


You are investigating how Utahns helped the war effort during World War II (1941-1945). Which of these photographs is a good primary source for your topic? Why?

Releasing a Man for Service, Kerns Army Depot, 1944
A boy with a sled, Salt Lake City, 1909
USMC AV-8 harrier Jump Jet, Wendover Air Base, 1976

Hint: Look at the date each photo was taken. Which one was taken during World War II?

Now you are ready to learn how to connect evidence! Click Next to move forward. Click Previous to move back. Return to the History Investigators homepage here.

Keep Exploring!

Learn how to Connect the Evidence here.
Return to the History Investigators page here.
Return to the I Love Utah History home page here.