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?