Analyzing Primary Sources: Reading Cartoons

By th' way, what's that big word?

We often think of cartoons as funny but, in addition to entertaining and amusing us, they can also enlighten, provoke or persuade us. Political or editorial cartoons, in particular, provide subjective viewpoints about current issues and events and the people involved in them. Cartoonists use a variety of techniques—symbolism, exaggeration, irony, analogy and labeling to name a few—to convey their story or perspective through images. Learn more about these techniques by reviewing this Cartoon Analysis Guide.

Next, learn more about the art of cartooning by reading the articles and visiting the online exhibitions linked to below.

Finally, try your hand at analyzing political cartoons.