Monday, December 12, 2005


History links

Over the last month I've been assembling history-related links for the Department of History at JHU. The Department wants to provide a page on its website with Links of Interest to historians.

Obviously, it will not be exhaustive, but ideally it will provide a good springboard page for historians in our particular department. That's why my first collection method was to email department members asking for pages that they use regularly. I have not yet visited all of the sites I was referred to, but I've got a working collection that I've been supplementing with my own finds when I have the time.

Right now I'm collecting the links on a page, which allows me to organize the links with tags. (I don't know how I would even begin to organize them otherwise, without making an unmanageably long list on which sites would appear in multiple categories.) If you have suggestions for sites I'm overlooking, please pass them along. You can tell by scanning the geographical tags to the right that I could use some help filling out certain fields.

Many of these links may not be new to you, but here are several pages that I've found recently that have been very helpful:

Digital Images Online at the Yale Beinecke Library: This searchable database contains over 70,000 prints, photographs, and other visual images. The search engine, I've found, is amazingly precise and user-friendly for an image database.

American Political Prints, 1766-1876: Provided some good fodder for classroom discussion in my U.S. survey course. For example.

Secession Era Editorials at Furman University: I went looking for a site like this after reading about a teaching exercise that James Horton uses: "I break the class up into regional groups, New England, Mid-Atlantic and Southern. Each group then reads newspapers from their respective region for news coverage of the John Brown raid on Harpers Ferry. Students debate the raid using the information that they find in their regional newspapers. It quickly becomes clear that the newspaper accounts differ considerably. We then discuss the ways that newspaper accounts shaped public opinion and how the newspaper accounts were shaped by regional attitudes especially those concerning slavery."

I did something similar by using editorials on Harpers Ferry drawn from the Furman website. First, I distributed different editorials to pairs of students, but concealed the title and location of the newspaper. I then asked them to answer a series of questions about their editorial (Who was involved in the raid? Who or what is to blame for the violence? What are the lessons to be learned from Harpers Ferry? etc.). Finally, I asked students to go around the room comparing notes with other pairs, and to stick together with groups that seemed to have similar answers to the document questions. Once they were sorted into groups, I revealed the titles of the newspapers, along with their locations and partisan affiliations, and we were able to analyze the patterns of agreement that emerged. It became a little chaotic towards the end with students moving around and the class period about to end. But I think better time management on my part could make a second trial of this exercise better.

Collective Improvisation:
Thanks, Tom. These are helpful.

Posted by Blogger Caleb McDaniel on 12/15/2005 01:27:00 PM : Permalink  

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