Document Type


Publication Date



The purpose of this article is to provide guidance on how teachers can introduce historical photographs to their history class. Werner (2002) argues that visual texts are no longer simple tools that enhance the look of a written text, but are central to student learning. We (one author is a veteran social studies teacher and the other author is an education professor) specifically address Werner’s call for social studies educators to teach students how to be critical readers of visual texts. In the manuscript, we discuss the role of historical photographs in social studies classes and provide practical methods and activities teachers can use to introduce more images to their students. By bridging students’ visually rich outside world with the world inside the classroom, we seek to enable leaners to be interpreters rather than uncritical consumers of visual texts.


Published in:

Nix, Jearl and Bohan, C.H. (2014). Looking at the past for help in the present: The role of historical photos in middle and secondary history classes. Ohio Social Studies Review, 51(2), 13–22.

Posted with the permission of the publisher.