Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

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Primary Sources: Workshops in American History
 

A video workshop for high school teachers; 8 one-hour video programs, workshop guide, and Web site

Now on DVD

In this workshop, 12 high school history teachers explore the use of primary-source documents in the research and interpretation of American history. The programs feature informal lectures by prominent historians on pivotal events from the settlement of Jamestown to the Korean conflict and the Cold War. The teachers are led in discussions, debates, interviews, and role-playing as they investigate the original documents that "transmit the voices of America's past." Teachers will find that the activities in this workshop can be adapted and used in their own classrooms.

The topics relate to programs from Annenberg/CPB's instructional series A Biography of America, which can be viewed in coordination with this workshop.

Produced by WGBH Boston. 2001.

Closed Caption     ISBN: 1-57680-405-4

Louis P. Masur (left) and teacher
Louis P. Masur (left) and teacher

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Individual Program Descriptions
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Social Science Discipline List
Individual Program Descriptions

VODWorkshop 1. The Virginia Company: America's Corporate Beginnings
with Pauline Maier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

How can primary sources illuminate historical events? This workshop tells the story of Jamestown, a less-than-successful example of America's capitalist beginnings and a colony as a business operation. Drawing on contemporary accounts, workshop participants assume the roles of colonists and shareholders to argue the future of the Virginia Company's settlement at Jamestown.

Coordinated with A Biography of America program 2: English Settlement. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 2. Common Sense and the American Revolution: The Power of the Printed Word
with Pauline Maier, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This workshop explores the power and importance of America's first "best-seller." Using the language of ordinary people, Thomas Paine's Common Sense called for revolution, challenging many assumptions about government and the colonies' relationship with England. This workshop contrasts the declarations of local communities with Common Sense to see how support for American independence rose up in the colonies.

Coordinated with A Biography of America program 4: The Coming of Independence. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 3. The Lowell System: Women in a New Industrial Society
with Louis Masur, City College of New York

In the earliest days of American industry, the Boston Manufacturing Company created an innovative, single-location manufacturing enterprise at Lowell that depended on the recruitment of female mill workers. This workshop debates the impact of this new form of employment on workers — for better or for worse. Participants investigate the workers' experiences first-hand — through diaries, letters, published accounts, and official mill postings.

Coordinated with A Biography of America program 7: The Rise of Capitalism. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 4. Concerning Emancipation: Who Freed the Slaves?
with Louis P. Masur, City College of New York

This workshop examines the role of the enslaved in bringing about the end of slavery in the United States. Through analysis of President Lincoln's attitudes and actions before and during the Civil War, and correspondence, speeches, legislative orders, newspaper articles, and letters written by African Americans — enslaved and free — workshop participants debate the influences prompting Emancipation.

Coordinated with A Biography of America programs 10: The Coming of the Civil War and 11: The Civil War. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 5. Cans, Coal, and Corporations: The 1893 World's Columbian Exposition
with Jonathan Chu, University of Massachusetts Boston

Intrastate transportation and industrial technology exploded in the second half of the nineteenth century, creating a new vision of America. Join the onscreen participants as they draw on essays written to celebrate the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago to explore this new perspective, both cosmopolitan and expansionist, and its implications for the future.

Coordinated with A Biography of America program 15: The New City. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 6. The Census: Who We Think We Are
with Evelynn Hammonds, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Every 10 years, American citizens get a new view of who they are. In this workshop, a selection of Census forms over the past 200 years shows how categories of race and ethnicity not only reflect, but can shape and sometimes obscure, America's ideas of racial identity. Onscreen participants attempt to "find" themselves in evolving racial categorizations from 1830 to 1990 and, using recent Census results, formulate appropriation priorities for a Midwestern community.

Coordinated with A Biography of America program 19: A Vital Progressivism. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 7. Disease and History: Typhoid Mary and the Search for Perfect Control
with Evelynn Hammonds, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

This workshop looks at the history of infectious disease in America — particularly typhoid, diphtheria, and polio — and their "conquest" by medical research and public health regulation. With the aid of contemporary medical journal articles and New York City health records, the onscreen participants investigate the medical and civil liberties issues exemplified by the case of "Typhoid Mary" Mallon. Facing off as either Board of Health officials or friends of Mary Mallon, workshop participants debate the typhoid carrier's fate.

Coordinated with A Biography of America program 15: The New City. Go to this unit.

VODWorkshop 8. Korea and the Cold War: A Case Study
with Jonathan Chu, University of Massachusetts Boston

This workshop looks at the first use of military force under the Truman Doctrine, and the Korean War as the first practical manifestation of America's Cold War "containment" policy. Using works by George Kennan and Walter Lippman, treaties, and the texts of the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine, the onscreen participants take on the roles of major military, political, and strategic players at a mock Senate hearing to decide whether to intervene in Korea in 1950.

Coordinated with A Biography of America program 23: The Fifties. Go to this unit.

 

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