History Harvest: Community Collectives

New York TimesThe January 2013 issue of the Perspectives on History highlighted a project of the students and faculty of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln called History Harvest.  The article called to me about a way to collect the information that is most often lost- that of the community in which we all live.  Everyone has those personal historical documents tucked away in a closet, attic, or basement that we think about rarely (or sometimes often).  These documents have a personal value, but also a historical value regarding culture and social of our given communities.  It’s a shame to let those documents sit, forgotten, tucked away when they could be digitized for use by historians and students.

The co-directors William G. Thomas and Patrick D. Jones started this project “to create a popular movement to democratize and open American history by utilizing digital technologies to share the experiences and artifacts of everyday people and local historical institutions.”  People from the community are invited to these harvest gatherings with their personal items and histories to have them digitized with photographs and digital stories.  Local organizations, museums, and others are also welcome to bring items to be digitized.

Students are heavily involved, creating, planning, and advertising for their harvest.  Its an excellent hands on experience for the students to learn what history means to people in their community and how everyone can contribute in some way.  It’s a fascinating project that begs for duplication in communities across the United States and the world.

Needless to say, I would be highly interested in starting my own “History Harvest” in my community with students.  If you would be too, you can contact the co-directors via the links on their names above or contacting them through their website at: http://historyharvest.unl.edu/


Everyone was doing it and I just did not understand the whole magic of Pinterest and why it was such a wonderful thing.  Then, someone explained it to me and I figured out how to use it.  You have to click on the image, and then click on the link or double click the picture to bring you to the subject matter.  It’s like a digital bulletin board of the most random things in life.  I am now officially hooked.  The second night after my cumulative exam I successfully spent three hours doing nothing but browsing the site and “pinning” things.

But its not only fun, but functional for historians and teachers.  I have two boards myself, one full of historical images that I look forward to using in powerpoints for my students.  Images are powerful educational tools.  I’m sure that they will come up on exams, assignments, DBQs, and many other places as well. You can check out (and follow if you like) my “Teaching History” board here: http://pinterest.com/aprilgibbs1776/teaching-history/ .

The second functional part is the different teaching tools, techniques, organizational ideas, and disciplinary tactics that are shared on Pinterest.  They not only inspire you to inspire your students, but can give you a different way of approaching a subject or topic in the classroom or with a particular student who has been struggling.  Plus, it helps to know that you’re not alone in this struggle of teaching.  You can view my “For Teaching” board here: http://pinterest.com/aprilgibbs1776/for-teaching/

There are also fantastic DIY ideas and recipes and numerous quotes and humor boards to keep you entertained for hours.  I know this is probably not new information for most of you, but I wanted to share the awesome educational abilities of a popular website.  Check it out: http://www.pinterest.com.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

I considered doing a post on the history of the celebration of Christmas but I was afraid that the post could go one of two ways: either overly religious or cynical over the commercialism of the holidays.  So instead, I’d rather steer clear of such topics and focus more on the history aspect in the coming year.

Besides, the History Channel has the following video on the evolution of Christmas:

History Channel: Evolution of Christmas

Instead, I decided I’d present you with a series of historic Christmas photographs from the Florida Memory collection.  Enjoy and I hope you’ve had a great holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, Hannukah or just enjoy getting a few days off from work.

From my family to yours, happy holidays!

Singing Christmas Tree

Photograph by Charles Barron. Singing Christmas Tree in Fort Myers, FL 1954. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Child with Christmas tree and toys, 1912

Child with Christmas tree and toys, 1912. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory

Reenactment of the first Christmas ever in what is now the United States

Reenactment of the first Christmas celebrated in what is now the United States. Tallahassee, FL, 1959, State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Haya parlor decorated for Christmas, 1895

Haya parlor decorated for Christmas at 605 Magnolia Avenue, Hyde Park – Tampa, Florida, 1895. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Mary Dwight displays croquet set gift she has just found under the underwater Christmas tree at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 1948

Mary Dwight displays croquet set gift she has just found under the underwater Christmas tree at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, 1948. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Young women decorating Christmas tree at the beach : Pensacola, Florida, 1962

Meriam De Shazo and Kenna Morris trim christmas tree at the beach: Pensacola, Florida, 1962. Photographed by Jim Stokes. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Optimist Club selling Christmas trees : Tallahassee, Florida, 1956

Optimist Club selling Christmas trees : Tallahassee, Florida, 1956. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.