The DBQ: Document Based Question

“Yer a historian, Harry!”
Why the DBQ is
• You don’t have to actually
know any facts or dates
• You don’t have to
remember anything from
• All you have to do is think
The DBQ and the other FRQs
You are provided with
The skill being tested is
critical evaluation
Your role is to be a
You must recall evidence
The skill being tested is
Your role is to be a
Why require a DBQ?
The most important skill for historical study is critical
Historical evaluation requires context.
In order to write an effective DBQ…
You must be able to:
 Evaluate
the question and place it in context.
 Consider the source of each document.
 Allow the documents to lead your research.
 Craft a claim supported by the documents.
 Group and utilize the documents to answer the question.
Planning Your Paper
Please, please, please don’t skip this step.
Planning your Paper
The biggest cause of great papers getting a “1”:
What is the difference?
Evaluate the political
and economic effects
of Mongol rule in
China from 12001450.
Analyze the effects of
social and cultural
tensions arising from
Mongol rule in China
from 1200-1450.
Planning your Paper
The solution: Take time to read and plan.
 (PS:
Don’t worry if you don’t know anything about the
question – AP is doing that on purpose!)
The 10 minute planning period
 Underline
words that define your task.
 Circle words that limit your scope (no need to worry
about time period here).
 Now is the time to start thinking about documents you
want to see!
Planning your Paper
“Historical Background” section
 Sometimes
(not always) included.
 If it’s there, read it carefully.
 DO NOT quote from it or try to use it for your
 This
is a waste of time
 Papers that do this tend to be weak
Planning your Paper
Use the majority of your planning time for the
 Between
4 and 10 documents
 The source is as important as the content
 Be sure to go through documents quickly and efficiently
 Make many marks on the document sheets!
 Nothing
in the green essay booklet is scored or even read.
Planning your Paper – Final Steps
 Are
Group your documents in an analytical way
 Do
you clear on what is being asked?
your groups help you make your point?
Use your groups to write a clear, specific, and
analytical thesis.
 Include
the time period!
Good Groups (depending on
Chronological groups
Intended audience
Purpose of docs
Attitude or tone of docs
Geographic area
Generally bad groups
Types of documents
(maps, speeches, etc)
“Laundry lists”
Your grouping is the
most key part of
your analysis.
A thesis is clear, specific, and analytical!
Not a Thesis:
“There were many
political and economic
effects of Mongol rule in
“The Mongols increased
trade in China and
elevated the status of
A thesis!
“During the time
period from 12001450, Mongol rule
threatened Confucian
political beliefs, while
strengthening foreign
trade over the Silk
“For the period 1876-1908, analyze how the Ottoman
government viewed ethnic and religious groups within its
Theses that don’t work –
“There were many ways in which the Ottoman government viewed ethnic and
religious groups.” (too bland & vague)
“The Ottoman government brought reforms in the constitution of 1876. The
empire had a number of different groups of people living in it, including
Christians and Muslims who did not practice the official form of Islam. By
1908 a new government was created by the Young Turks and the sultan
was soon out of his job.” (paraphrases historical background & doesn’t
address the question)
“People of different nationalities reacted differently to the Ottoman
government depending on their religion.” (gets the question backwards)
“For the period 1876-1908, analyze how the Ottoman
government viewed ethnic and religious groups within its
Theses that DO work –
“The Ottoman government took the same position on religious diversity as it
did on ethnic diversity. Minorities were servants of the Ottoman Turks, and
religious diversity was tolerated as long as Islam remained supreme.”
“Government officials in the Ottoman Empire were able to send out the
message that all people in the empire were equal regardless of religion or
ethnicity, yet an underlying reality was that the Turks and their version of
Islam was superior.”
The Documents
What makes a DBQ!
The funeral procession of former British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, travels along
Fleet Street to her funeral service at St Paul's Cathedral, in London April 17, 2013.
What can a document show?
Can you use documents together?
“If our people feel that they are part of a great nation and they are
prepared to will the means to keep it great, a great nation we shall be, and
shall remain. So, what can stop us from achieving this? What then stands in our
way? The prospect of another winter of discontent? I suppose it might.
But I prefer to believe that certain lessons have been learnt from experience,
that we are coming, slowly, painfully, to an autumn of understanding. And I
hope that it will be followed by a winter of common sense. If it is not, we shall
not be—diverted from our course.
To those waiting with bated breath for that favorite media catchphrase, the 'Uturn', I have only one thing to say: 'You turn if you want to. The lady's not for
turning.' I say that not only to you but to our friends overseas and also to those
who are not our friends.”
-Margaret Thatcher, 1980
Possible Documents
Spoken quotes
Written excerpts from various sources
Charts & Graphs
Propaganda & Cartoons
Point of View (POV)
What is POV?
 The
specific worldview of the author
 Composed of experiences, prejudices, priorities, etc.
Who has a POV?
 Everyone
and everything.
Why worry about POV?
 We
cannot ever escape it.
 We must account for it and even make it useful in our
POV is a tool, not an stumbling block!
Point of View (POV)
Questions to ask:
 What
is this person’s background?
 What position are they likely to hold?
 What position do they hold?
 Are they reliable on the subject?
 What is their class? Gender? Occupation? Status?
 Is the date significant?
Remember: There are no trick documents. Every
document is chosen because it is useful for a specific
The Additional Document
The Task: Identify a “missing voice”
 Must
NOT be included in the documents already!
 Must be a document that could actually exist!
What other document would you, as a historian,
State specifically WHY you need this document
 Like
your POV and groups, this should be analytical
The Additional Document
Possible types of missing voices:
 Specific
class or occupational group
 Social caste
 Women
 Graphic or data
 Illustration or photo (for late DBQs)
The Additional Document
Ineffective (no points)
I would like to have seen a document
from a medieval farmer to see what
he would say.
Effective (good for the point)
A political cartoon from World War I
would help me make my point.
I need a document from a woman to
see what her point of view was.
I would like to seeofficial orders
from the Ottoman government on
how to treat different ethnic and
religious subjects since such a
document could show how the
government implemented its policies.
A shipping manifest of items shipped
to American troops in Europe would
help me evaluate the economic
impact of World War II in the USA.
Your Score
To get a nine, you must first get a seven.
How I Score
I read your DBQ.
As I encounter docs & groups, I notate them.
I check off other rubric points as I find them.
I usually do not re-read.
If (and only if) you scored a perfect 7, I re-read
for expanded core points.
Some rubric points are graded more strictly in a
given year.
How I Score
Things that make me frown:
I cannot read your paper
you write in pencil
you don’t cite your documents
you write in “text-speak”
How I Score
Things that make me smile:
You write a clear and intelligent thesis
Your groups mirror your thesis and make it easy to follow
You understand why each document was included
You identify an important missing voice
You evaluate more than two POVs intelligently.
You write a paper that stands together – not just satisfying
each rubric point.
(If you do these things, I am more likely to re-read your paper
and make sure I’m not missing any points to give you.)
Past DBQ Questions
The relationship between cricket & politics in
Southeast Asia from 1880-2005. (2012)
The causes and consequences of the Green
Revolution from 1945-present. (2011)
Compare mechanization of the cotton industry in
Japan and India from 1880-1930s. (2010)
African actions and reactions in response to the
European Scramble for Africa. (2009)
Past DBQ Questions
Factors that shaped the modern Olympics movement
from 1892-2002. (2008)
Han and Roman attitudes toward technology.
Social and economic effects of the global flow of
silver from 1500-1750. (2006)
Issues that 20th century Muslim leaders in South Asia
& North Africa confronted in defining their
nationalism. (2005)
Past DBQ Questions
Analyze the responses to the spread of Buddhism in
China. (2004)
Main features, causes, and consequences of
indentured servitude in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Compare attitudes of Christianity and Islam towards
merchants and trade from their origins until about
1500. (2002)
That’s the DBQ
Any questions?
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