Found History

by Tom Scheinfeldt

Project Announcements from ASHP

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Longtime CHNM partner and inspiration, the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning (ASHP/CML) at CUNY has just announced three exciting new initiatives of interest to Found History readers.

From ASHP’s latest newsletter:

Picturing United States History: An Online Resource For Teaching With Visual Evidence

In October 2008, ASHP/CML will publicly launch our latest website, Picturing United States History: An Online Resource for Teaching with Visual Evidence. Based on the belief that visual materials are vital to understanding the American past, Picturing U.S. History (PUSH) will provide Web-based guides, essays, case studies, classroom activities, and online forums that help teachers incorporate visual evidence into their classroom practice. The website will supplement standard accounts of U.S. history with visual analysis and activities that allow students to engage with the process of interpretation in a more robust fashion than through text alone.

The website’s debut will feature a series of monthly public online forums featuring noted scholars of American history and culture: David Jaffee (Bard Graduate Center) will be guest moderator for the discussion on Jacksonian America in October, followed by Peter Mancall (University of Southern California) on Colonial America, Kirk Savage (University of Pittsburgh) on Slavery, Catherine Lavender (College of Staten Island/City University of New York) on the West, Barbara Melosh (George Mason University) on the Great Depression, and Alice Fahs (University of California, Irvine) on the Civil War.

Picturing U.S. History is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of its We, The People initiative.

ASHP/CML Public Seminar – Recovering Community History

Recovering Community History panelists Marci Reaven, Craig Wilder, Lillian Jimenez, and Madeleine Lopez (at left) Recovering Community History panelists Marci Reaven, Craig Wilder, Lillian Jimenez, and Madeleine Lopez

On March 5, 2008, the American Social History Project hosted a public seminar entitled, “Recovering Community History: Puerto Ricans and African Americans in Postwar New York City.” The Gotham Center for New York History co-sponsored the event.

“Recovering Community History” highlighted the personal narratives of lesser-known Puerto Ricans and African Americans living in New York City who participated in different forms of social activism. Filmmaker Lillian Jimenez opened the evening with a clip from her documentary, Antonia Pantoja ¡Presente! Her work focuses on visionary leader Dr. Antonia Pantoja, whose activism sheds light on the quest for Puerto Rican self-identity, educational rights, and bilingual education in New York City. Marci Reaven, Managing Director of City Lore, then took the audience on an illustrated journey to the Bronx. She spoke about the links between Bronx Puerto Ricans’ musical heritage and their political activism (from “Mambo to Hip Hop”). Finally, Craig Wilder of Dartmouth College discussed the history of African Americans and public education in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s. Hailing originally from Bedford-Stuyvesant, Wilder added a personal touch to the story of Boy’s High School and the African-American experience in New York City.

ASHP/CML Collaborates on NEH Funded Education Grant with CUNY’s John Jay College

The Division of Education of the National Endowment for the Humanties awarded its third largest teaching and learning grant this year to former ASHP/CML staff member Professor Fritz Umbach and his colleagues at John Jay College, Elisabeth Gitter and Patricia Licklider. “Making Objects Speak: Portable Audio Guides for Teaching with Visual Culture in the Humanities” is a three-year project that brings together scholars in English and history to produce and disseminate ten audio tours of local museum collections, historic buildings, and neighborhoods. The project will also create supplementary web-based educational materials and develop workshops and other resources to foster the replication of this project nationally.

Building on the flexibility of digital audio technology, the “Making Objects Speak” project will enhance introductory college courses in history and literature by engaging students directly and actively with the artifacts and environments of past societies. ASHP/CML will develop the website for this project, while ASHP/CML’s Donna Thompson Ray and Professors David Jaffee and Cecilia O’Leary of our New Media Classroom and Learning to Look programs will convene workshops in New York and California with faculty interested in creating their own guides based on the same pedagogical principles. These institutes will explore the instructional potential of material culture for the humanities, with attention to inquiry-based pedagogy and new technologies. Participants will also learn the best practices for creating new audio tours and the practical computer skills required to produce them.

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