Submitted work by WilliamH

Analyzing Objects

Porcelain

Musket Ball

Smallpox

Nail

Reaper

Shirtwaist

Transistor

Coffee

Record

Tire

Dishwasher

Dress

Stereograph

Stone

Mail

Shoe

Question 1:
This is a tea cup that appears to be very well made. It is a cup AND saucer indicating that it has function beyond utilitarian.
Question 2:
This object indicates class distinction, and also perhaps trade implications since it is probably not made locally, and the tea that goes into it is also imported.
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Question 1:
Historical thinking is a mental process whereby objects, artifacts, events and people are analyzed using historical context.
Question 2:
Objects that have historical significance are frequently dismissed by the modern observer as obsolete, and having no relevance to them. By making the effort to regard that object in terms of significance to the origianl user, the object can shift the observer's perspective and make them view that object in a new light. By cosidering the historical relevance of the object, the observer is thinking historically.
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Question 1:
There are five different sizes of nails. They appear to be hand- made. They are made from iron but show little corrosion. The one second from the bottom has a different point from the rest indicating that it may have a different purpose.
Question 2:
Most trades in early America were for the purpose of maintaining finished goods, and not producing them. Nailsmiths in England would have been the source of most nails in use here up to the Revolution. Nails are a relatively simple product to make, and I imagine that they may represent the initial transition toward manufacturing here at home rather than the reliance on importing.
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Question 1:
This appears to be a grave marker. It is worn with age. The site is well maintained, and enclosed by a fence.
Question 2:
Tombstones are a kind of narrative about an individual written by the survivors. They can tell us about values of the period in that the living family members are making a final statement to posterity to encapsulate what qualities the deceased had that are worthy to be remembered.
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Question 1:
This object has extensions that appear to be attachments for a horse or mule. I see a blade on the right, and mechanized contraptions on the left. There is a circular device at the bottom that is likely powers the gears as the object is drawn across the ground.
Question 2:
Mechanization marks the turning point in our history where our society was transformed. We pivoted away from a rural society to an urban industrial society in the late 19th century. Improvements in farming practices made this possible. Machinery on farms negated the need for labor , while urban industrialization boomed and absorbed the displaced farm labor. Americans began to live and work differently because of objects like this.
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Question 1:
This is a closeup of an extremely small object. There are three main objects, and one seems to be better focused.
Question 2:
While extremely small, the historical impact of smallpox was not. Europeans had developed a measure of immunity to the disease, but the impact of it when the old world mixed with the new was huge. In many ways, the devastation on native populations helped ease the way for European colonization and expansion.
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Question 1:
This is a recording of a song called Young America by Nora Bayes who is accompanied by an orchestra. It was recorded in the USA by the Victor Record Co.
Question 2:
The Twentieth Century features a steady march toward more and more personalized media - this technology was the first step in that direction. It represents a transition between music as a socializing force, and music that is directed at individual consumption.
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Question 1:
I see a letter posted via the Confederate Post Office. It was free to mail suggesting that a soldier is involved. The hand-writing is beautiful, and although it was sent in the midst of a devastating war, it suggests a simpler time when a letter could find its way to a recipient with minimal information on the address.
Question 2:
Since the letter is being sent to South Carolina, I am assuming that it is from a soldier to his family, and not the other way around given that South Carolina is behind the lines. I would therefore anticipate that this object will provide primary information about the conditions and trials of war, and those that fought in it.
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Question 1:
This is a picture of a women dressed in white, and sporting a banner that reads women's suffrage. The style can not be described as comfortable- there appear to be many layers that take modesty into account. In fact there is very little skin to note about this object.
Question 2:
This object represents a titanic change beginning in our culture where the traditional roles of women and therefore men are going to be transformed. The question of women's equality in particular is confronted by the movement toward women's suffrage, but in a broader sense, the doors are being opened to confront justice and equality issues for all Americans.
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Question 1:
Under the Mercatilist arangement, the colonies were a souce of raw materials and a market for imported goods. The fine porcelain tea set in the hands of a well to do colonial household illustrates the bond between colony and mother country as well as the subserviant role of the colony. It is a statement from Britain that if you want nice things, you must bow to the power structure that accompanies the mercantilist relationship that is designed to enrich Britain at the expense of the colonies.
Question 2:
I would like to know more about the industrial capcity of the colonies. Knowing that colonial trades like silversmith , blacksmith, carpenter etc. were primarily engaged in maintanence and repair of imported finished goods, I wonder about the ability and desire of colonial tradesmen to shift from maintaining goods to the production of the goods themselves.
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Question 1:
Historical thinking is what is involved when one refuses to take history at face value. It is a process of inquiry that returns one dimensional accounts back ro their multi-dimensional state and gets you closer to truth about history.
Question 2:
Objects are a direct link to the past from whence they came. Observing that object and analyzing it's characteristics, function, significance etc. puts the observer into a state of historical thinking and the instructor then is free to lead the observer or student toward a final objective.

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Question 1:
This module over-simplfies the story of the humble nail. It should be noted that one style of early American home was left out- the clapboard house which was being constructed at Jamestown by at least 1610, which made use of hand hewn boards that were fastened with nails. These nails were massed produced by low-skilled nailsmiths in England and sent to the colony in casks. Nails may have been scarce as the frontier was pushed west into the early 19th century, but their more widespread availability (perhaps from producing them by machine) transformed construction styles which transformed and facilitated development of the frontier.
Question 2:
Moving into the Great Plains required adaptations in order to make the "treeless wasteland" inhabitable for easternersThe lack of lumber dictated the use of sod for housing, but with the development of the transcontinental railroad, building supplies became more attainable. The ease of transport afforded by the railroad made locating to the west easier for those that wished to bring the eastern comforts and traditions in construction with them. Lumber and nails arrived, and fewer and fewer "soddies" were to be found.
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Question 1:
I have seen these boundary stones before, but I jumped to the wrong conclusion that this was a grave marker. On second thought however, it is just that in a way. The District of Columbia was envisioned as a grand city with monuments that extolled to the world our noble experiment in liberty. However, we were burdened with a cancerous hypocrisy that became harder and harder to ignore. The original layout of the city evidenced by these boundary stones would not survive as D.C. was torn apart by the issue of slavery- a harbinger of the similar fate the rest of the nation would suffer.
Question 2:
I would think that through the exploration of political maps with particular focus placed on why we see the boundaries we see between counties/states/countries etc. is a good place to start. For example, students seem to be naturally drawn to comparing the oddly shaped states of the east to the geometrically drawn states of the west leading to a conclusion that the way we draw boundaries changes from time to time and place to place.
Further, students need to be encouraged to ask not only how boundaries were drawn, but by whom and why.
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Question 1:
I had always thought that the improvements in farming technologies were coincidental to the growth of cities and towns. I see now that it was a prerequisite. The reaper's ability to produce surpluses encouraged efforts to build infrastructure that would transport that surplus to market. Without that infrastructure, the development of urban areas would have been unneeded if not impossible.
Question 2:
The reaper is an example of the revolutions in farming techniques that pushed people (labor) out of rural areas. Revolutions in industry were also at work to pull people (labor) into urban environments. Carnegie's use of the Bessemer process, and Ford's use of the assembly line come to mind as examples. Displaced farm labor needed an alternative, and advancements in industrial techniques and processes provided that alternative. The push in rural areas required a pull in urban areas- the transformation from rural to urban in the 19th century could not have happened without both aspects of our society essentially working together.
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Question 1:
Smallpox had the power to halt commerce (as it shut down ports like Charleston), hinder armies, paralyze populations, and even stop correspondence like that between John and Abigail Adams.
Question 2:
Looking through any one lens to understand history is never a good idea. History is composed of multiple layers that all need to be considered for the sake of context. We have many people in our world today that see history through a single lens and immediately take up torches and pitchforks to tear it down.
The impact of disease played an enormous role in our history, and it must therefore be one of the lenses we use to examine it, but by no means should we forget to consider multiple other lenses as we do so.
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Question 1:
As non-white populations began to flock to our shores, they faced resistance. While the need for labor made America fling open the doors, the racial background of the arrivals did not go unnoticed. Asians faced severe restrictions in the Northwest, and southern and eastern Europeans as well as Caribbean Blacks faced similar "welcomes" in the east.
The song is performed by a Jew who has anglicized her name. She passes as white, and the selection of a patriotic song completes the process of defining how this new wave of immigrants can become full fledged Americans. For those who can not simply change their name to transform their identity, the path to the American dream will be significantly more difficult.
Question 2:
To understand immigration, students need to be aware that population migration results from a combination of push and pull factors. There are plenty of secondary sources to explore historical push factors present around the world at any given time, as well as the pull factors in the United States that made us the logical option for oppressed people seeking relief.
Primary sources like diaries, arrival logs, employment records, marriage and birth records would be useful to flesh out the story as well.
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Question 1:
The balance of power between federal and state authorities was a touchy subject before the ink dried on the Constitution. I never considered that before the mid 19th century, the average person's contact with any federal authority was limited to the post office. This limited contact illustrates that the State's Rights issue was pretty much secure for Southerners regardless of what they might profess to believe.
Question 2:
As I stated above, there was tension between state and federal authority from the beginning. A tension that almost guaranteed conflict at some point, seems to have been encoded in the Constitution itself. Prior to today, I had never really considered the actual balance of power within our Federal system on the eve of a war that one side would trumpet as its cause the over-reach of the Federal Government. It seems as though States's Rights was reasonably secure.
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Question 1:
I was always under the impression that the women's suffrage movement was linked to broader civil rights movements as cooperating parts of a massive under-current of progressive change in America. I was ignorant to the connection of many suffragists to the eugenics movement and racial purity. The white dress as a symbol to purity underscores the point that as sub-groups of citizens strove for greater justice and equality in our society they sometimes came into conflict with each other.
Question 2:
Given that I had never considered the question of suffrage from the vantage point of minority women, I would be interested in exploring sources that covered their experiences. In particular, there were the experiences of Native women who had even more obstacles to overcome.
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Title: Made in America
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
I think that in order to explore the reality and implications of trade relationships historically, I would start with trade relationships today. Students could take an inventory of "made in" tags from clothing, bookbags etc. and then consider certain questions about their findings. Why do we get x from china? Why do we not manufacture x here? What do you suppose would happen if relations with an importing source soured?
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Title: The 70s
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
I think it would be fun to have students analyze simple objects from my childhood (70s) in order to demonstrate that life was very different for kids then- so imagine how exponentially different it would be hundreds of years ago.
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Title: Hands-on Nail making.
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
I worked for many years at Jamestown Settlement, and found myself in the forge frequently. While nails were an imported item in colonial Virginia, we made them in the forge out of neccessity for they were used in the construction within the fort. Making a nail is a simple task, and we allowed our 4-Hers to make them as part of their program. I have often been tempted to bring in a portable forge and allow students to make a nail.The takeaway is that while labor intensive, the manufacture of nails is not complicated. It was carried out historically by low-skilled labor- often widows and orpans. Consequently, the cost of nails was not determined by the labor, but by the material.
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Title: Ulterior Motive
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
The story of D.C.'s boundary stones is interesting in and of itself. But the obvious connection to the tensions the nation as a whole was experiencing allows the D.C. story to illuminate the U.S. story. Therefore, using smaller stories to in fact tell larger stories is something I try to do frequently in class. I am currently telling my students the story of a fourteen year old Russian immigrant, but my ulterior motive is to expose the story of immigration in general.
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Title: Bottlenecks
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
I had never considered the fact that the evolution of farming techniques required overcoming bottlenecks at the different stages of the process. Overcoming limitations on sowing imposed by your available tools was hindered by the bottleneck created on the reaping end. I see my kids having a contest where the object is to distribute rubber bands onto the floor, and then pick them up again using different combinations of tools- tweezers to sow,dust pan to reap and vice versa. This would lead to a discussion of farming equipment that accomplishes the same tasks today and in history, and demonstrate the power of mechanization in transforming the need for labor.
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Title: Cross-curricular
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
I think that teaming up with the science department is in order here. I will have students explore the impact of smallpox in a historical context while my friends in the science department develop lessons on vaccination. The current Covid situation with impact and vaccine development can link present day knowledge to historical understanding.
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Title: American
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
I will challenge students to define what it means to be an American in 2020. Then follow an immigrant's story interactively (there are many internet sites that allow this), and pose the same question to students about being an American in 1900. It will be interesting to see and record changes to the definition.
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Title: A wolf by the ears.
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
I imagine that students might write a letter to Thomas Jefferson informing him that from their vantage point in the future, they are able to observe that slavery did not go quietly. Given this, what suggestions might they convey to him to make the ideals of the Declaration of Independence be applied more broadly sooner.
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Title: Dress for Freedom
Grade Level: Middle
Short Answer:
I would like to have students compare and contrast Victorian Era women's fashion to that found on the many female figures in our collective cultural statuary (Virtus , Statue of Liberty, Justice, Virginia Mourning Her Dead etc.) In short, what does fashion have to say anout freedom?
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