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Lesson 2 Discussion

Here are the documents I promised you.  All are from the National Archives, of course. :-)  Just click on the link and it will take you to the document.  You only need to analyze two of them, but I'd like for you to look at them all.

Please post your analysis ideas here on the discussion board (methods you already use or ideas you have for analysis), but send the actual analysis pages to me at carol.buswell@nara.gov .  Thanks!


1.  Plan for the U.S. Treasury Building on Saint Paul Island, Alaska, ca. 1880 (architectural drawing)


2.  St. Paul Island, Alaska. Native barabara and Aleut boy. (Alaska Investigations-1914), 1914 (photograph)


3.  Official Log, St. Paul Island, Alaska, 06/14/1942 - 08/02/1942  (text document)


4.  Aleut Womens Petition, 10/10/1942  (text document)


5.  Make America First in the Air, exact date unknown (ca. 1947-1984) (moving picture)  You can also see this at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnVKKUyWsMs 


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  • As an elementary music teacher, I have never used any analysis tools in my classroom. I have had a minimal amount of history classes, limited only to the very basic required courses (and that was many years ago.) For this lesson, I used the Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tool worksheet to analyze the photo of native barabara and Aleut boy, and the National Archives analysis worksheet for the Aleut Women's Petition. I loved learning to see a document beyond its face value. These documents showed the human, personal side of history. Thanks for expanding my knowledge of Alaskan history through this lesson!

  • I used the National Archives document and photo worksheets to analyze the Official Log and the photo of the Native barabara and Aleut boy. The questions posed on the sheet made me examine the document in more detail, especially looking at dates and trying to understand why the person who wrote it used the details that he did to recreate the conditions at the camp. I'm glad I looked at all the documents to see how they tied together. For the photograph, I liked the idea of dividing the image into sections and looking at them individually. Looking at it, then returning to look at it again helped me to see more details.

    This image makes for a great writing prompt. We can take what we know about history, the upcoming Influenza pandemic of 1918, the 1942 relocation and imagine the story of this boy's life. Write it as a diary or an oral history and he really comes to life.

  • Lesson 2--Beverly Thornburg

  • I used the motion picture analysis worksheet on the video reel.  I like the prediction portion of the worksheet.  It enables a viewer to engage before viewing.  There is also a spot to validate or invalidate your predictions.  I think this would help students viewing this type of video.  The film could have fit into several categories, I think.  Documentary but the military was making it so there was a bias towards their need for aviation development.  The footage was wonderful.  By focusing on the message, how it was conveyed and the impact on the viewer, it kept the viewer involved and thinking critically.  The propaganda angle was evident when watched analytically.  It was interesting to see the military competition with Europe.  I grew up with the Cold War and now the Middle East so it took a bit to notice the focus on Europe.  I probably would have missed it without the document analysis.  I thoroughly enjoyed the clips.  Thanks for sharing the video.

  • I used the National Archives written document analysis worksheet to read the letter from the Aleut women.  I found the worksheet made me read closer.  I read the document then began the worksheet.  I re-read the document and realized I had missed an important line, the last one:  We all have rights to speak for ourselves.  I then re-read the document again with this statement in mind.  The document was more than about the living conditions, it was about having a voice.  I like this worksheet and the others.  They are documents I can use in the classroom.  Thanks for the resource.

  • I'm having trouble viewing item 5, the moving picture. My MacBook Air tells me that it will take several hours to download. Looks like a huge file. Could be that I'm missing something - I really did try to read the directions :). Does anyone on the forum know a better way to view this film? Thanks!

  • I have not used any formal analysis methods up to this point in my teaching. Most of my document analysis with students has involved seminar style discussion after careful reading of the text. I also find that having a good amount of context prior to our discussion can help bring meaning (i.e. understanding the colonial experience well before reading the Declaration of Independence). It is also helpful to have resources available to decode historical texts that use words the students are not familiar with or allude to events that they may not have learned about.

  • I have used both NARA and LOC analysis tools in my classroom.  I find that while the LOC tools are a little simpler to complete, students have a tendency to respond with simpler answers.  The NARA tool is a little more in-depth in terms of questions it asks students to consider.  I will likely keep using both in my classes.  I liked the idea (in the lesson description) of using a picture that is partially covered to initiate discussing a source.  Our site coach showed us a similar activity using a Smart Board.  The image was covered by a jigsaw puzzle, and as you touched a piece it disappeared revealing more of the picture.  We had to guess what the image was, and that was our way of using physical activity to begin a lesson.

    I think both LOC and NARA's resources work quite well when coupled with a good discussion in class.  Helping students to engage the source beyond what the analysis tool is asking is more important than the tool that is used.  Both offer great launch points for discussions, and I think that is the whole point of having a tool like this.  It isn't meant to be the "be all, end all," of the assignment, but a great place to begin thinking about a time period, and the events that have been documented.

  • I will confess and say I have done very little of this in my teaching career of analyzing documents, photographs, etc.  I do find the Aleut Women's Petition very interesting as we are covering WWII in my US History classes right now.  I do not know that I would have the students actually fill out the form or we would just do it orally.  With the amount of time being cut back to even less it is hard enough trying to cover the information but using actual sources would make it more interesting and realistic for the students. So I will attempt to try this soon with my classes and see how they do.  It is also hard with limited computer access.

  • I finally did the lesson 2 tonight on Friday after a very busy week at school.  I really enjoyed checking out the various worksheets and they are definitely a resource that I will use in my class.  I chose to do the analysis of the Boy on St. Paul Island & the Women's Petition.  The sheets were very easy to follow and forced you to analyze the document very well.  By dividing in quadrants it made me see things in the barabara picture that I would not have noticed.

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