Teach American History Blog


I attended TNCHE (Tennessee Council for History Education) last week in Nashville and wanted to report on the sessions I attended. This is going to be a long one... so stick with me!

"Engaging Students with Online Civil War Primary Sources"

I will admit- the Civil War isn't my favorite era to study, but when the session I thought I wanted to attend didn't make it, I decided that learning more about the primary sources available from the Tennessee State Library and Archives could help you all. I was fascinated with all the projects they have happening, which only helps you all in the long run! That, and Genny Carter, the Archival Librarian who was presenting, also mentioned some of the other digital collections available at TSLA, which can even help those of you not teaching the Civil War. All of their digital collections (including some not mentioned here) can be found here: http://www.tn.gov/tsla/resources/index.htm

  • Looking Back: The Civil War in Tennessee
    The goal here is to scan and photograph privately held Civil War memorabilia in all 95 Tennessee Counties during the sesquicentennial. They've already been to Knox and Union counties, but haven't made it to Sevier yet! This collection holds letters, objects, and maps. All objects must be original to be eligible for scanning (TSLA does not keep the items, only the digital copies).
  • Tennessee Civil War GIS Project (tnmap.tn.gov/civilwar)
    This project is geolocating where the battles were and where markers are today. The map is clickable, and has embedded objects available from TSLA and the 1860s census data, as well as other related links as important to that area.
    This is still being worked on and is very large, so can be a bit slow. Be patient, because this is really interesting. This one is a bit hard to explain via blog because there is just so much you can do with it (current property lines in some areas, flood maps, census data, etc), so if you have any questions, I'd recommend either emailing me, or emailing civilwar.tsla@tn.gov directly.
  • Tennessee Virtual Archive (TeVA)
    This contains the most historically significant materials for Tennesseans, which does include Civil War materials (at least 7 collections worth), but also other eras as well. 
  • Tennessee Landmark Documents
    This one is pretty self-explanatory, but a few important ones to mention because I thought they were interesting... "Declaration of Rights; also, the constitution or form of government; State of Frankland," the Tennessee State Constitution (and the 1834 edition), and "Constitution of the Cherokee Nation, 1827." 
  • Photograph Database
    This one is having some issues with the search feature, and they are working on it. Narrow your searches to one word (yes, even "Civil War" is too much). Browsing may be your best bet here.
  • Civil War Sourcebook
    Articles chronicling the Civil War in Tennessee from 1861-1865. Over 7000 articles available!
  • Online Exhibits (http://www.tn.gov/tsla/exhibits/index.htm)
    This is, quite possibly, my favorite thing done by TSLA. These online exhibits contain great informational text alongside primary sources on a wide variety of topics. I've used the "Tennessee Disasters" exhibit for some of the things I've been working on here, but it looks like "The Volunteer State Goes to War : A Salute to Tennessee Veterans" might be my new favorite. They go back to the Revolutionary War and up to Vietnam (they don't have enough donated for wars after Vietnam, so check out "Post-Vietnam Wars" if you are interested in donating items to their collection).
  • and finally... there's an app for that! Search for "Tennessee Civil War 150" or click here on your iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad (they are hoping to get an Android version out soon). I had every intention of downloading this app and being able to report on it better, but unfortunately time was not in my favor this week. It looks awesome though, so if you have access to any of those devices, check it out. Best of all, it's FREE!

"World War II: The Good War?"

Whereas the Civil War isn't usually my cup of tea, World War II is. This session examined interpretations of the war, and was meant to make attendees question whether or not a war could be "good." We read from the following examples (groups with multiple readings have been grouped together):

  • "Why We Rescued Horses Instead of Jews" by Dr. Rafael Medoff and Benyamin Korn; "How General Patton and Some Unlikely Allies Saved the Prized Lipizzaner Stallions" by Karen Jensen; and "Aging GI Reflects on WWII Rescue of Lipizzaner Stallions" by Tom Keyser
  • "Wartime Internment" by Mikiso Hane (a primary source)
  • "Speech Delivered in Des Moines, Iowa on September 11, 1941" by Charles Lindbergh (a primary source)
  • "How IBM Helped Automate the Nazi Death Machine in Poland" by Edwin Black

If you are interested in any of these readings, I will be happy to scan them and email them to you. I would really only recommend these for upper-level high schoolers though, after hearing about all of these readings.

"History vs. The Movies"

Movies based on true stories are always 100% accurate- well, at least, that's what your students would like to believe. Kira Duke from Teaching with Primary Sources across Tennessee used 3 movies (Iron Jawed Angels, Monty Python Life of Brian [but what did the Romans ever do for us?], and Pocahontas [the Disney version]) as examples for how to incorporate primary sources available from the Library of Congress to bolster understanding of what actually happened or providing comparisons. Her powerpoint can be found here. If you would like to use the worksheets that was provided at this session to compare Pocahontas to the real version of the story, please let me know and I can send the worksheets along to you.

Posted by Ashleigh Oatts - Monday, 10/08/2012, 10:29 AM - Comments -