DBQ Writing

DBQ Writing
What is a DBQ?
• You are an historian and you have a question
about a certain topic, event, person, theme, etc.
• Your task is to come up with a thesis to answer
your question (or question posed by others)
• Thesis must be backed by evidence obtained
from documents that you analyze
• So you are an historian seeking the truth
– You have documents that shed some light on the
truth, but each is only a small piece
What is a DBQ? (cont)
• As an historian you must put these documents
together in a way to come up with a solid
thesis answering the question
• A DBQ is a way to have you simulate the
historian’s methods for interpreting the past
DBQ Thesis
• Answer the question, don’t just repeat it
• Good thesis must focus squarely on the
• Must interpret the evidence
Use of all the documents
• Must make use of all the documents
• You can refer to each document in a way you
like, but it must be clear which document you
are referencing
• Use the name of the document (Hammurabi’s
Code,) and document number (Doc.1)
• Must demonstrate understanding of all
documents, but can misinterpret one
document & still get point
Supporting evidence
• Documents must be used to support thesis
• Can use quote from the document or simply
describe which part of document you are using
• Tip—basically don’t quote– not enough time (Just
Make sure your references are clear)
• Receive 1 or 2 points for supporting evidence
– 2 points for appropriate evidence from all but 1 doc.
– 1 point for appropriate evidence from all but 2 docs.
DBQ--Point of View
• Must analyze author’s point of view in at least
TWO documents
• Look at the documents:
What type of document is it?
For what purpose was it created?
Who wrote it?
What is the tone? Is the tone intended to create a
particular outcome?
– Why would this person feel this way at this time, in
this place?
– Who is the intended audience?
– What is the validity or reliability of the document?
Point of View
• Historians look for evidence from different points
of view to insure correct analysis
• You are seeking the truth, therefore you must
evaluate the reliability of the document
• Required to do two, but try to do all!
• Point of View Examples: “Since Hammurabi’s
Code was inscribed in clay tablets and in human
size stone monuments that have been dated
historically accurate, we can assume that the laws
expressed are here are the real representation of
Hammurabi’s laws.”
More on Point of View
• Answer the question, “How would the
negotiations between Iran and the US be
portrayed by each countries spokesperson”?
• What would United States Secretary of State, Jon
Kerry say about Iran’s nuclear development?
• What would Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani say?
• Consider what a report of in each country’s
newspaper would look like.
Grouping Documents
• You will be grouping documents to help
strengthen your thesis or argument
• Must group documents in a way that makes
sense to you
• No formula for this
• Could group by chronology, theme, region,
culture, etc.
• Can group by authors that agree with each
Grouping Documents
• No one way to group documents, but must be
clearly identified
• For DBQ you must group in TWO or Three
– Plan to group in at least three ways
– Same document can appear in several groups
• You are going to use your groups to support
your thesis
DBQ Grouping Documents
• categories in the law code documents some
– Forced submission through use of military force
• 2,3,4,6
– Enriching or benefiting the conquered lands or
• 1,3,5,7,8
– Codified laws
• 1,8
– Terrorize to set an example
• 4,6
– Religious legitimacy or empowerment
• 1,2,3,5,7
– Techniques of “theatre state” (surrounding with grandeur,
honorific titles-1,2,3,5,7
Additional Document
• This is easy to forget, but don’t!
• Must identify ONE type of additional
document or source
• Must explain why document would help
answer the question
• Assume you are an historian & can’t quite
understand the issue
– You need another view or type of document
Additional Document
• If only I knew how……….
• Must be specific (can’t merely say “I’d like to hear
from a woman”)
• Must explain how this document might change or
expand the interpretation of the available
evidence and the prompt
• Place the discussion of the additional document
immediately following the introduction, in the
conclusion, or in each group—not as part of the
Additional Document
• Additional Document Example in Law Codes:
– Voice of conquered people to determine how rule
was carried out
– Notes from a priest
Word usage & meanings
• Analyze means to first identify component
parts of the question and then then examine
their nature and relationship
• Assess/evaluate asks you to make a judgment,
consider negative and/or positive points (or
advantages and disadvantages), or give an
Word usage & meanings
• Compare requires you to note both similarities and
• Describe simply asks you to tell about something. It
generally isn’t as difficult as analyzing, assessing,
evaluating, or comparing
• Discuss means to talk through and consider a topic
from different points of view, or possibly debate
• Explain means to clarify. It involves making clear the
causes or reasons for the issue or topic, as well as
some historical evidence to illustrate your main points.
The Question for Law Codes
• Based on the following documents, analyze
the methods by which rulers in the early
civilizations of the Middle East established
legitimate power over the empires they
created. What additional kind of document(s)
would you need to evaluate how these
ancient rulers maintained power?
• You may refer to relevant historical evidence
not mentioned in the documents.
The question in this DBQ is asking you
to analyze
• Analyze means to first identify component
parts of the question and then then examine
their nature and relationship
• Based on the following documents, analyze
the methods by which rulers in the early
civilizations of the Middle East established
legitimate power over the empires they
How to start your thesis
• Start your thesis out by identifying the time
– “During the early civilizations of the Middle East,”
– “From approximately 2300 BCE to 539 BCE,”
• Answer the question:
– “During the early civilizations of the Middle East ,
rulers established legitimate power over their
empires through the methods of
Key Points on your groups
• Develop your groups as paragraphs to support
your thesis
– Use a topic sentence to convey the major
supporting idea of your group
– Remember to not explain what the document
means, but use the documents meaning to
support the thesis
– Refer to the document by its formal name or
document # (use both)
Concluding Paragraph
• Rewrite your thesis in a more comprehensive
• You can add a sentence on the additional
document you would like to have viewed to
make your analysis more accurate
Basic Outline of Essay
• Paragraph #1 – clearly stated thesis
– Remember in historical writing you don’t need a lot of
color and fluff to surround the thesis
• Paragraph #2– missing document analysis
• Paragraph #3—Group one documents support of thesis
(remember POV & label docs. )
• Paragraph #4—Group two documents support of thesis
(remember POV & label docs. )
• Paragraph # 5—Group three documents support of
thesis (remember POV & label docs.)
• Paragraph #6—Conclusion: restatement of thesis—try
to write it more comprehensively