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Lesson 8

This is where you will tell us about THE ONE exhibit, collection, or interactive website you reviewed thoroughly (after just poking around in many) for today's lesson. 

I am hoping each of you chooses a different one, but of course there are no guarantees and you won't be marked down for choosing the same one as someone else.  Just go with your heart and mind! 

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  • I planned on reviewing the Documented Rights Exhibit for this project, but I was sidetracked by interesting pieces of information. While following a random trail, I found an exhibit titled When Nixon Met Elvis. I couldn't resist finding out more.

    Along with a published list of citations, copyright information (government photographs are inelegible for copyright protection), and easy to download images and documents, there is a great story.

    On December 21, 1970 Elvis wrote a note on American Airlines' stationery asking to meet Nixon in order to give him a gift. Elvis also "desired to be given the credentials of a federal agent in the war on drugs." This intersection of celebrity and politics might be an entertaining way to get students interested in primary sources. 


    This is the citation text that I downloaded from the exhibit:

    ARC Identifier: 1178
    - Photographs of President Nixon and Elvis Presley, 12/21/1970
    - There are 28 Elvis-Nixon photos, shot by Nixon's chief photographer, Ollie Atkins, on December 21, 1970. 
    - They are identified as Roll 5364, frames 02 through 23, and Roll 5369, frames 12a through 17a. 
    - The photos on Roll 5364 depict Nixon, Elvis, and Nixon staffer Egil Krogh. 
    - Roll 5369 photos depict Nixon, Elvis and Elvis' bodyguards. 
    - The famous photograph is item number 5364-18 (left).

    ARC Identifier: 194703
    Richard M. Nixon Meeting with Elvis Presley, 12/21/1970


    ARC Identifier: 194704
    President Richard M. Nixon Meeting Elvis Presley And Two of His Associates, Jerry Schilling And Sonny West, 12/21/1970

    The Letter:7314585466?profile=original


  • 7314565855?profile=original

    There are so many amazing resources available online through NARA! I will probably spend all summer digging around and adding items from the digital collections to my lecture notes for next year! I spent some time looking through the Treasures of Congress exhibit. It contains digital items and narrative text for a few dozen key events and eras in the history of the national legislature. Two items that I found particularly interesting in the context of my teaching US History were the section The House Selects a President about the election of Jefferson over Burr (which I was just talking about in Government on Friday) and Reconstruction: The Impeachment of Andrew Johnson. I think it is fascinating that in this day and age of electronic records, voting devices, and instantly tabulated results to see the hand written ledgers showing the votes of Congress. The image I've included (at right) is the record of votes for the Impeachment of Andrew Johnson. I will enjoy sharing this with my history students next year after I have had them read the chapter from Kennedy's Profiles in Courage on Sen. Edmund Ross, the deciding vote in the impeachment proceedings.

  • Hi, everybody,

    Sorry I have been AWOL for a bit--we've had deadlines here.

    OK, like others on this site, I got lost in the fabulous collections and exhibits for this lesson.   It is real gift to have these collected and labeled topical areas all nicely laid out for us on the PPT. The posts that people are contributing are truly fascinating..;and I love the images.  It's all interesting and thus, does not lend itself to focus.

    However, I find myself attracted to social history (and thus may broaden my final project topic to "Some stuff that fascinates me." At any rate, for this assignment, I immersed myself in "What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?" This exhibit was displayed at the Laurence F. O'Brien Gallery," which apparently is in Washington D.C., from June 2011 to January 2012.  It explores through visuals and media our society's fascination with and relation to food production, preparation, and consumption through the disparate government agencies that have concerned themselves with our nation's food. The exhibit divides itself into "Farm," "Factory," "Kitchen," and "Table." A wonderul aspect of this exhibit is its graphic qualities. It's rich with contemporary posters and documents such as broadsides.  Note this poster from WW II. Seriously:


    In fact, as a study in art and social history, this exhibit has multiple layers. The posters are compelling for their qualities as graphic art and also as relections of the norms, persuasions, and assumptions of their times. E.g. this beautiful poster from WWII urging food producers (farmers) to align themselve with the war effort. Note how the farmer is leaning forward in the picture frame, and the verdancy of his crops. All can be heroes in a fight where "right" is so apparent.

    Some interesting things that this exhibit show us:

    --Home economists, an invention of the 20th century, were first presented in white, like nurses

    --The U.S. Government has had quite a few agenicies in the business of persuading Americans how to make, choose, and prepare food... lots of these were from the war effort and pertained to food conservation.

    --Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, a major expose, was a major catalyst for food legislation and perceptions; for example, The Pure Food and Drugs Act of 1906 precipitated food labeling and regulation of processes. Hence we saw a lot of foods labeled as "pure."

    --The U.S. DOA WWII Food Guide gave us the idea of "food groups," one of which was butter.

    --In 1911, an epidemic of carp which has been released in waterways lead to a government campaign to catch and eat 'em. Check out this dubious broadside from the Bureau of Fisheries:


    Disgusting, no?

    --In WWI in France, the army held the first Seder for Jewish soldiers.

    --The National School Lunch Program, one of the jewels of our civilization, is another offshoot of WWII and the rationing thereof

    --And, look at this broadside from the Revolutionary War, enticing people to enlist for the food rations, plus candles and soap.


    And FINALLY, if you go to the Preview at http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/whats-cooking/preview/index.html

    you will see how beautifully the Archives has designed it with a nostalgic, vintage composition format

  • With my bias toward looking at something I could use in a World History class, I looked at the "Deadly Virus" exhibit about the Influenza epidemic of 1918.  I was disappointed but not surprised that the collection contained no documents about areas outside of the borders of the US (kinda thought I might find some army reports from overseas, or something from an overseas US embassy, perhaps), but that doesn't dissuade me.  In fact, I am encouraged that there is such a good collection about the effects of the flu in the US, because there's lots of different angles I can take from there.  I searched the Influenza epidemic here, and found plenty of docs about the flu outside of the US, and I can envision doing a comparison of the effects of the flu epidemic on different nations.  I also looked up the effects  of the Black Death here, and I could see a change over time essay on comparing responses to epidemics in the Middle Ages vs. Modern Times.  I was impressed by the richness of some of the documents.  Particularly in being able to look at the responses to the flu epidemic:  I kind of thought, the more things change, the more they stay the same, when it comes to fear and superstition, even with all of the scientific knowledge we have today.

  • Todd,


    I have never seen this flag before.  That is really cool.  I was like one of your students and "geeked" over the Lincoln Memorial, but this is because Lincoln is my dude.

  • This is the lesson that most "geeked" me.  I have taught AP United States History for 10 years, and have known that this existed.  I think for the whole reason I enjoyed this is for the whole reason why I shy away from using it in the past;  it is so overwhelming!  So much to look at and use.   In April I brought students to Washington D.C.  Every year when we go the students all flock to the Lincoln memorial.  I have seen it in person dozens of times, so I always think it has always been that way.  I think this is why I was captivated by the "Designs For Democracy" exhibit...It is so hard for me, let alone my students, to think of these old places and monuments as once being brand new, or just an artists conception.

    7314588090?profile=originalHere is the untitled artists conception of what the Statue of Lincoln would look like....so fascinating to notice how different the real statue appears. 

    7314588280?profile=originalHere is the 1910 rendition of the East Elevation.  What a great discussion to have post-visit!  Or when we talk about what things get memorials, or how we memorialize in our Society.

    Here is another cool discussion point for my students:  Here is a proposed design for the new 50 star flag from 1958 to deal with the incoming states of Alaska and Hawaii.


    What a great resource! 

  • What a wealth of material in this section! I had a hard time choosing just one to research. Each exhibit I browsed through contained gems that could have sent me into a long exploration. I chose “The Way We Worked” to fully examine.

    I enjoyed digging into the photos that showed people at various jobs. I looked at the images from a few perspectives:
      The composition of the photos, noting the settings & conditions which are so different from many of our workplaces today;
      The workers, noting the different jobs people did sometimes based on age, gender, race or background.
      Things I’d never known before: we’ve all heard about the many jobs women held to support the war effort during WWII, but I hadn’t known that the same happened during WWI.

    Among images I really liked, I'm including the one of a gentleman reading a newspaper to his coworkers in the cigar factory. Besides the beauty of the photo with the building's rough features and the natural lighting, it made me wonder if some of the workers were unable to read. Maybe this was their only source of news. Imagine that! It also made me think of today’s office “radio wars.” This is a wonderful image.


    From a research standpoint, it was interesting to look at which record groups the exhibit images came from. I didn’t know about some of the agencies or divisions that were listed on some of the images, such as a Women’s Bureau, Children’s Bureau and U.S. Information Agency. Each of these departments provides a jumping-off point for further research on a topic, so I appreciate seeing how many departments can have images that related to one topic or which libraries have images on particular topics.

    I also found myself emailing links to family members when it related to where they lived or a topic that interests them. I hope they start poking around to find more info. I love this resource!

  • I chose to explore the Eyewitness exhibit.  This collection has a slick presentation, is very easy to navigate, and would be good for presenting a quick snapshot of something, say as an anticipatory set to a bigger topic, or perhaps as something to do a quick write about.  It contains a small (refreshingly manageable) amount of documents representing primarily US history from 1775-1990 that are grouped not chronologically, but according to thematic category (Free At Last, War at Sea, Passing of an Era, Scenes From Hell, Leaders In Crisis, etc.).  I really appreciated that the voices presented are not the mainstream characters.  The topic relating to the assassination of President Lincoln, for example, is the testimony of his family physician, rather than his wife, or the vice president, either of who you might assume would be a go-to witness of the event and its immediate aftermath.  Instead, we hear testimony from the physician who attended Lincoln's last hours as related at the trial of the eight accused conspirators.   One document related to the Dachau camp is a letter from a private written to his parents.  He helped liberate the camp and explains in unsparing, graphic terms what he encountered.

    Each topic has a brief background, a written document or audio clip (letter, court testimony, diary entry, etc.) that can be zoomed in on (if written), and 2-3 related photographs, historical paintings, maps, or other type of illustrations. 

    Final synopsis: A neat and concise package that won't take up a ton of classroom time with a complex lesson plan, yet expands on select topics with inviting detail.

  • What a great resource!  I love that these exhibits really expedite the process of finding materials relating to topics.  I looked over a few of the exhibits, and found that while the founding documents exhibits were really neat (the American Revolution and founding of the country is my favorite topic in U.S. history), I chose the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 to thoroughly explore.  I was aware of an epidemic in Alaska on the Y-K Delta in 1900, which killed in some places over 50% of the population, but I didn't realize there was a national outbreak in 1918.  

    In the exhibit there are many images of people in flu masks.  One of my favorite is of a trolly conductor not letting a man on the trolly because he wasn't wearing a mask.  There are quite a few more of people in other professions using masks to protect themselves.  It makes me wonder how successful the masks were.  Flu viruses are quite small in size, so the mesh would have to have been very tight for there to be any real purpose in using them.  I would imagine that they had some beneficial effect, but not likely as much as was claimed.


    There were quite a few letters to and from BIA schools as well.  At first I thought it odd that there were so many (three or four), but then thought a bit more about how there were few agencies in the federal government that were directly impacted by the epidemic.  The BIA schools were likely the only schools, outside of maybe ones on military bases, that are controlled by the federal government.  So, it makes sense that there would be a lot of federal records concerning an epidemic among people who rely heavily on the government.  All-in-all I thought it was very interesting, and I could easily see how having students explore the same exhibit independently could lead to some very good discussions and activities.

  • I looked at several of the exhibits.  The one I chose to comment on was: Tokens and Treasures,  Gifts to Twelve Presidents.  It was an enjoyable exhibit.  The Introduction explained that when America was young, there was a law passed that no gifts would be accepted or exchanged. They found that an impossible ideal to keep.  Each president from George Washington on, has accepted gifts. 

    This exhibit features two gifts for each president from Herbert Hoover to Bill Clinton.  There are pictures of the gifts, acknowledgements of who made them and presented them and the reason or occasion if known.  Some gifts are related to personal likes of the presidents such as cowboy boots for Eisenhower to saddles for Reagan.  Other gifts related to political issues of the time such as a torn flag for the hostages being held in Iran during Carter's tenure as well as the quilt for Franklin Roosevelt depicting Democratic Donkeys and 48 stars with the number of electoral votes embroidered on each star that he received from each state.

    Gifts came from private citizens of the United States and from heads of states of foreign countries.  Some are well known artists and others are common citizens.

    This exhibit was rich in history and enjoyable to read.  It also gave a brief history of how and when presidential libraries were established.   

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