EDC’s Picturing Modern America Web site, a set of online activities and tools that help students learn history through primary documents, was recently honored as one of the best online resources for education in the humanities. The site includes hundreds of documents, photographs, pamphlets and films on U.S. history and culture from the Library of Congress. It received commendations from EDSITEment for its “intellectual quality, content, design, and most importantly, classroom impact.” EDSITEment is a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Council of the Great City Schools, MarcoPolo Foundation and the National Trust for the Humanities that identifies high-quality material on the Internet for classroom use.
The Picturing Modern America project builds on work conducted by EDC’s Center for Children and Technology (CCT) for the Library of Congress. CCT assisted the Library in making its American Memory digital collections—40 primary-source archives, each including thousands of documents, photographs, pamphlets, films, and audio recordings from U.S. history and culture—accessible to teachers and students across the country. Teachers report that giving students direct access to these online sources, along with guidance in how to use them, gets students more motivated and engaged in doing history.
Picturing Modern America offers primary resources for the middle and high school classroom. The site focuses on the years 1880 to 1920, when Americans began to visually document and narrate their changing world with newly available technologies. The materials capture the evolution in the way Americans ‘picture themselves’ in an era of unprecedented immigration and migration.
Students and teachers are able to explore the materials on the Picturing Modern America site by using various historical research tools. The “Image Detective” introduces students to the methods scholars use to analyze historical photographs. The “Investigations” section focuses on life at the dawn of the 20th century; students explore the archives in order to answer probing questions about such topics as prairie living, child labor, and Indian life. In “Exhibit Builder,” students create their own online museum collection.
EDSITEment serves as a resource for teachers, students, and parents searching for high-quality material on the Internet in the subject areas of literature and language arts, foreign languages, art and culture, and history and social studies.
Originally published on December 1, 2005