Today’s Treasure Trove -5A1

I’ve used Flickr before to share photos with friends or with a colleague who needed them for an annual report or slide show. Recently, I had a chance to explore some of their Creative Commons images to use for another project. Today, instead of scurrying through a specific assignment, I took some time to explore some of the offerings in The Commons on Flickr – Wow! I could spend hours looking at the various collections and can think of a ton of ways to use some of them, both professionally and personally.

1. Having just visited Australia and New Zealand in February, I was pleased to see several Australian collections, including those from several places we visited. It will be nice to have a source to “fill in” some of our own photos from there.
2. Some of the roots of my family tree are in the Scottish Highlands. I fell in love with them when I had a chance to visit several years ago. I WILL be going back – perhaps the Scottish photo collections will help me plan my itinerary or even show me some of my homelands.
3. Several years ago, I made a capstone presentation set to music called “I am an Immigrant” for a conference on immigration and new Iowans. It looks at some of the historic issues of immigration as well. I have had many requests to show it again, which was a big surprise. Unfortunately, I used photos from the conference which a) makes it less appealing for a larger audience and b) is difficult to get releases from conference attendees to use their photos in a different way than was originally intended. There are creative commons photos I can substitute and make the program more relevant again.
4. The US National Archives alone could keep me busy for weeks. There is so much we can learn from history, if we just would pay attention! The “Today’s Document” would be a great resource to share with teachers who are trying to help their students understand how to use primary sources..Did you know there’s an app for that (in both iPhone and Android)?  And photos of each document are available to use from Flickr.  I serve as state coordinator for the Representative Democracy in America program and could see that being very useful for some of our teachers.  There are a number of historical photos that would be great to contrast to similar issues we still struggle with today.  For example, there are a number of photos of Japanese Americans in or waiting to be taken to interment camps during the 1940s.  Seeing actual photos of real people helps a paragraph in a history book come alive.  How does that contrast with the way we treat immigrants today?  Especially in light of Arizona’s immigration laws?  It would be a wonderful assignment to have students compare and contrast the eras and the issues.

5.  I do quite a bit of training around child/adolescent development and brain research.  These are areas with huge changes in the last decade, not to mention the last couple of centuries.  I found a number of photos in the US National Archives collection called “History Through the Camera Lens” that include children, some very young, working in difficult labor situations.  One of the first photos I plan to use is the one below, a group of little boys (Newsies) posed on the steps of the US Capital selling their newspapers.  I would use it contrasted with a group of students posed on the Capital steps as part of a local citizenship tour.  The newsies’ photo was taken in 1912, exactly a hundred years ago.  I think this would be a wonderful discussion starter looking at how our attitude toward children in the workplace and our expectations of them in general have changed in the past hundred years.  Having the participants come up with their own contrasting photos illustrating current situations compared to its historical counterpart would be a fascinating assignment.  Students could use Flickr photos or perhaps talk with some of their elderly relatives to get their oral histories or personal photos.  It would be a much more meaningful process than just constructing a T-chart.

Whether I am traveling, researching my own roots, learning about culture (songs, dances, crafts, traditions) or history, I’m most interested in the everyday people, not just the celebrities, kings or generals.  Historic photographs give us a view into that world that nothing else can in quite the same what.  They help us understand the reality of the day.

If you could look at someone’s historic picture book, what would you be interested to see?

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5 thoughts on “Today’s Treasure Trove -5A1

  1. mkruch says:

    I too love reviewing old photos; they add so much history to a traditional story. If I could review someone’s picture book, I would review family photos. My ancestors are Irish immigrants and I enjoy family history. It would be wonderful to know their stories and trace their journeys while comparing family resemblances.

    Similar to your suggestion, I have had my lower level students interview a family member about their “American Dream” in conjunction the novel Of Mice and Men. Using a picture to accompany their speech would draw the students into the presentation and make a stronger connection to the information.

    Thanks for sharing the link for the US National Archives collection. It is an excellent resource.

    • jreedduka says:

      Both of your ideas are excellent. I love to look at old pictures as well I am just not sure I would want to post my own pictures on Flickr. There is something uncomfortable about it for me unless those pictures were strictly landscape pictures. My shutterfly account allows me to share pictures with whomever I want to.

  2. Gayle says:

    Genealogy is so completely addicting! It’s fascinating to learn the names and places of our ancestors, but I’m with you – their stories are the best. It’s like being a detective and finding out how historical events impacted real people. I’ve learned so much about history! Why did some of my ancestors leave Scotland? I learned about the Highland Clearances. What role did my DAR patriots play in American Independence? I learned so much more about how the militias operated. Why did they come to Iowa? Those were lessons about building the railroad and brand new land grants. How did my GGGrandfather get injured in the Civil War? I learned about the Pioneer Corps, how to use the resources in the National Archives and that government paperwork has been around for a very long time – and a garden variety citizen like me can access it. Photos add so much! What does their clothes tell about them. Who was included in the photo and who wasn’t? What clues are in the background?

    It is so important to help students understand how their lessons are relevant to their daily lives. Your “American Dream” lesson sounds like a very good way to do that. Some students are so much more comfortable around images than they are around words. If they can start with the image (or artwork or music) they can begin to describe it, but if they have to start with words, it overwhelms them.

  3. jreedduka says:

    Gayle,
    I agree with your comment:
    “Photos add so much! What does their clothes tell about them. Who was included in the photo and who wasn’t? What clues are in the background?”.
    Photos are an excellent way to open a lesson or add to a lesson. I am just not sure that Flickr is better than other sources that are available as well like Google images.
    Jen

    • Gayle says:

      There are certainly other sources for pictures out there and I agree that sharing my own photos on Flickr beyond specific family and friends is not something I would do. What I do like about the collections I referenced is that they are public domain with almost no restrictions on how to use them, are mostly professionally done, and frequently part of some type of series or special purpose project and therefore have a decent amount of info to accompany them.

      I need to find a good photo sharing site for my personal use. I think Flickr has similar security and sharing protocols for those who want to use them. I would be interested in hearing your experiences with shutterfly, or other sites, maybe in the forum?

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