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December 2009

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Help Create a Primary Sources Database!

The American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning is designing a database of U.S. history primary sources, activities, and focus questions. They are seeking input about what features are most useful, what resources are most important, and how teachers generally use the web to enhance teaching. Educators who complete the survey will be entered to win a gift certificate and will help ASHP better plan for the needs of history teachers. Complete the survey here by January 1, 2010.

History Content

Website Review: TUPPERWARE!

This site explores the invention and rise of Tupperware products in the 1950s, as well as its impact on women's issues, and its connection to the 20th-century consumer culture revolution. A Primary Sources section includes transcripts of interviews with Earl Tupper and Brownie Wise, six video clips from the late 1950s and early 1960s (documenting the annual Tupperware Homecoming Jubilees, which were large gatherings of Tupperware dealers), and excerpts from the first Tupperware handbook. More here.

Best Practices

Examples of Historical Thinking Video! Daily Objects, 19th-century America

Historian David Jaffee analyzes three 19th-century objects (a Hitchcock chair, a family portrait, and a lithograph of the West), discussing how they were made, how they were used, and what they can tell us about the past. Jaffee models several historical thinking skills, including close reading, sourcing, and contextualization. Watch the video here.

Teaching Materials

Great for Elementary School Teachers! Teaching Guide: Using History Book Sets to Investigate Historical Agency

Authors of historical fiction for children and adolescents often anchor their narratives in powerful stories about individuals. Emphasis on single actors, however, can frustrate student attempts to understand how collective and institutional agency affects opportunities to change various historical conditions. History Book Sets (HBS) that focus on experiences of separation or segregation take advantage of the power of narratives of individual agency to motivate inquiry into how collective and institutional agency supported or constrained individuals’ power to act. Read more here.


Issues and Research

Research Highlights! Using Primary Sources to Teach Both Story and Skills

History is the story of the past. Because the past comes to us via fragments, however, such as surviving documents and accounts, history as a discipline focuses on interpreting what happened and why. Due to time constraints and standardized testing, many teachers focus on teaching students the basic story of the past, sometimes leaving out historical analysis. Many teachers who use primary sources to teach about historical thinking worry that it will take time away from helping students understand what happened. This study suggests that both activities can—and should—happen at once. Continue reading here.


TAH Grants

Project Spotlight: Rivers, Roads, and Rails

In the Cleveland, Ohio, area, educators increased their professional prowess through a highly collaborative three-year Teaching American History (TAH grant). "Rivers, Roads, and Rails," provides a number of resources on their blog that could easily be applied to educational undertakings outside of the specific project. These include forms for logging oral history interview sessions and permission requests (which can be used as templates for your own project forms), examples of Google maps made by participants, and links to resources on orphan trains. Learn more here.

Professional Development

Workshop: NHEC Workshop at AHA in San Diego

On January 9, 2010, the NHEC presents its own workshop at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. Topics covered will include "Teaching the 'New' Military History with Social History: New Subjects, New Techniques"; "Teaching about Immigration to Immigrants, Children of Immigrants, and Non-immigrants"; "History, Education, and Public Policy: California, 1998-2011"; "Talking about Text: Engaging Students in Historical Analysis"; and "Resources to Teach about Immigration from a West Coast Perspective." Get details here.