Class 2: Curating Historical Content

Today’s class will focus on finding and curating historical content – in this case images. Students will share their search tips for using our historical archive resources. Our focus will be on sourcing material that is in public domain.

Most materials are in the public domain if they were produced before 1923. I see this as roughly equivalent to everything that happened in the world up to and including World War I! If you’re looking for newspaper articles in Chronicling America, for example, you will note that coverage ends in 1922. 

Primary sources produced by the federal government are normally in the public domain both before and after the magic copyright date of 1923. That explains why we as teachers can use the fabulous oral history interviews of former slaves collected between 1936 and 1938 by workers from the Federal Writers’ Project.


Assignment 2 | Posts 19-A2
Task 1: Image detectives (inspired by Crop It lesson)

Being able to find and curate historical source material is a foundation of historical thinking. This activity merges three Instuctional goals: finding / curating historical sources, looking closely at historical sources and using WordPress tools to add images and hyperlinks. It will help students learn how to find material for future lesson design activities.

  1. find 3 historical images
  2. for each image: provide full image with citation in hyperlink back to source
  3. then add a of crop area of each image to show one of the following clues (add clue in the image caption) Tips on how to crop an image
  4. Put all content into a post. Give it a clever title. Include a featured image.
  • who or what this image is about.
  • where this takes place.
  • when this happened or was created.
  • what is the creator’s point of view or purpose.
  • something I have a question about

Example: Image with two crops

African American Soldiers in an Automobile Source
When? It’s an upside down 1919 NYS license plate. I think they are returning Black WWI soldiers in a parade.
These Black soldiers are being honored in a parade. Knowing 1919 is in the Jim Crow / KKK era, I wonder what else faced them back in America?

In class practice images. Choose one. Add to a sample post. Include source hyperlink and crop with comment.

  1. Smartly dressed couple seated on an 1886-model bicycle for two 1886. Source
  2. The 8th Avenue trolley, NYC, sharing the street with horse-drawn produce wagon and an open automobile 1904 Source
  3. Automobile helped through sandy wash onto mesa 1911. Source
  4. Women’s Machine Gun Squad Police Reserves, New York City 1918 Source

Task 2: Introduction to historical thinking via SHEG

Class 3: Teacher as Curator

Teacher as curator








Skillful curation is based on skills across Bloom’s Taxonomy – a good grounding in lower order understanding of content, analysis of theme, evaluation of appropriate content and assemblage into a new context (or exhibition). This class will explore how history teachers can be skillful curators – designing engaging experiences where their students can “be the historian.”

This class will open with a lecture / activity that explores three elements of curation: Teacher as curator handout  1MB pdf

  • Select the artifacts
  • Think like a historian
  • Scaffold the content
Assignment 3

See completed student assignments 3 here

Students will curate a small exhibit of at least 3 artifacts. There should be a clearly stated theme and artifact labels and / or explanatory text as needed. Choose to do an exhibit based on any historical theme that interests you. Historical artifacts could include images, audio or video – but all should be in the public domain.

…. Or get creative and choose a theme based on artifacts in your possession – for example how would future museum goers understand three objects from your Star Wars collection or cooking utensils? (if you choose this approach, take photos of the objects you have.)

Please complete your post by Sat 16. All students should look at the other exhibits and leave a comment on at least one. Did you “get” what they were trying to say? Suggestions?

All students should use AdobeSpark to create featured image. It’s a very useful tool for creating striking title slides with public domain content.  ( I use them for most of my featured images in this blog). I’ll explain how to use in class.


Image credit: Adobe Spark