Introduction

The famous DBQ, or “document-based question,” is an essay question on AP History exams which asks students to use their own knowledge along with evidence from several provided sources to analyze a historical issue or trend. It is not uncommon for educators of these rigorous history courses to look for practice prompts to utilize in the classroom, so students can learn how to write this particular type of essay. For educators who want to both teach their students the best ways to respond to these prompts while also exposing them to non-white issues that have been prominent throughout history, this resource will be helpful!

Resources

There are many resources available online for teaching with non-white DBQ’s in the classroom. Some of the topics touched upon below include slavery in the United States, the mistreatment of Native Americans, the spread of a particular religion, and various issues across Africa, Europe, and Asia.

DBQ’s

  1. AP United States History
  • 2009 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to explain why from 1775 to 1830 many African Americans gained their freedom from slavery while the institution of slavery expanded. Additionally, students will need to analyze how free and enslaved African Americans responded to the challenges confronting them. Documents include several pieces of text along with an image and a side-by-side map of the U.S.
  • 2009 Free-Response Question (Form B): The second version of the 2009 DBQ asks students to discuss the ways in which African Americans shaped the course and consequences of the Civil War. Included are several pieces of text, an image, and a diagram of African American and white participation in the Constitutional Conventions (1867-1868).
  • 2013 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to analyze the causes of growing opposition to slavery in the United States from 1776 to 1852, taking into consideration both underlying forces and specific events that contributed to the growing opposition. Documents include textual evidence, a poster advertising Uncle Tom’s Cabin, an abolitionist’s street poster, and a map depicting the early emancipation in the North.
  • Document-Based Questions 1973-1999: This link will take educators to the College Board’s AP United States History DBQ’s from 1973-1999. The DBQ’s from 1980, 1989, and 1995 are the ones educators will want to take a look at if they are planning to teach with non-white DBQ’s in class!
    • 1980: This DBQ provides students with a quote explaining that the removal of the Cherokee Indians from their land in 1830 was more a “reformulation” of the national policy that had been in place rather than a “change” in policy. Then, students are asked to assess the validity of this generalization while taking into consideration the moral, political, constitutional, and practical concerns that shaped national Indian policy between 1789 and the mid-1830’s. There are over fifteen documents here for students to choose from!
    • 1989: This DBQ asks students to assess the appropriateness of each of the different strategies for dealing with the problems of poverty and discimination faced by African Americans created by Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois while taking into consideration the historical context in which each was developed.
    • 1995: This DBQ asks students to analyze the changes that occurred during the 1960’s in the goals, strategies, and support of the movement for African American civil rights. Documents include sources from President John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter From the Birmingham Jail, and more!
  1. AP World History
  • 2002 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to compare and contrast the attitudes of Christianity and Islam toward merchants and trade from the religions’ origins until about 1500. Students will need to discuss if there are indications of change over time in either case and explain what kinds of additional documents they would need to assess the consequences of these attitudes on merchant activities. All of the documents included in this DBQ are pieces of textual evidence from various sources.
  • 2004 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to analyze the responses to the spread of Buddhism in China. Students also need to explain what additional kind of documents they would need to evaluate the extent of Buddhism’s appeal in China. All of the documents are pieces of text from different sources.
  • 2005 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to analyze the issues that twentieth-century Muslim leaders in South Asia and North America confronted in defining their nationalism. Also, students will be required to explain what additional kind of documents would be most helpful in furthering their analysis. All of the documents are pieces of text from different sources.
  • 2007 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to analyze the Han and Roman attitudes toward technology. In addition, students will identify another type of document and explain briefly how it would help their analysis. All of the documents included in this DBQ are pieces of textual evidence from various sources.
  • 2009 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to analyze African actions and reactions in response to the European Scramble for Africa. Students also need to identify an additional type of document and explain how it would help in assessing African actions and reactions. Included are several pieces of textual evidence and one image.
  • 2012 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to analyze the relationship between cricket and politics in South Asia from 1800 to 2005. Also, students will need to identify an additional type of document and briefly explain how it would help analyze the relationship between cricket and politics. Documents include several pieces of text and an image!
  • 2014 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to analyze the relationship between Chinese peasants and the Chinese Communist party between circa 1925 and circa 1950. Students will be required to identify one additional type of document and explain how it would help them assess the relationship between Chinese peasants and the Chinese Communist Party. Documents include several pieces of text and a photo!
  • 2016 Free-Response Questions: This DBQ asks students to analyze the relationships between gender and politics in twentieth-century Latin America. Students will also be asked to identify one additional type of document and explain how it would help their analysis. Documents include several pieces of textual evidence and two images!

Conclusion

Teaching about issues related to race, religion, and other sensitive topics isn’t always easy, but integrating non-white DBQ’s into the curriculum may be a good way to prepare your students for AP exams while also helping them understand some tragic parts of our history. The resources listed above give educators so many non-white DBQ’s to choose from!