Chronicling and Picturing America
Created through a partnership between The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress, Chronicling America offers visitors the ability to search and view newspaper pages from 1836–1922 and to find information about American newspapers published between 1690–present. This site includes access to partner projects Beyond Words and Picturing America to bring photographs, paintings, comics, and more together with use of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a boon for teaching primary source research skills such as gathering and evaluating information, comparative analysis, critical thinking, and the use of archival technology. As the project is ongoing, the greatest concentration of material that is currently available spans 1900–1922, but Chronicling America is continuously expanding the date range and States of the newspapers in the collection.
Beyond Words provides users with access to centuries of photographs, cartoons, comics, advertisements, and other images. Students can take on the role of archival researchers by contributing to the site as transcribers of captions, titles, and descriptions. Easy to follow directions allow users to mark images on pages to assist others who are searching the database.
Picturing America is the NEH's exciting project that brings masterpieces of American art into classrooms and libraries nationwide. A number of the artists featured in Picturing America were producing art at the turn of the century and articles and features on their work complement EDSITEment's Picturing America lesson plans.
Students can use Chronicling America, Beyond Words, and Picturing America to:
Construct DBQs to answer an essay or compelling question on a time or topic. Analysis of newspapers and paintings produced at different times and in different places can assist with change over time and point of view analysis.
Compare journalistic styles over time, including comparison of how news is reported in a 24-hour access culture compared to the turn of the 20th century.
- Prompt further investigation regarding events in U.S. history using the search by state feature to examine local impacts and incorporate them into the evaluation of national events.
- Analyze artistic differences and what is conveyed in a painting compared with a photograph or cartoon produced for a newspaper.
- Analyze paintings to identify themes and social issues of the time that are being addressed. Engage in inquiry to find artists not included in museums or official collections from that time to expand who is included.
- Pair newspapers and paintings with literary works to examine the historical context for when these works were published, what writers and artists were responding to, and to introduce competing perspectives that place the various sources in conversation with one another about a given topic or time.
- This revealing article on the unveiling of the Shaw Memorial by Picturing America artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens pairs well with lessons on the men who fought with Robert Gould Shaw in EDSITEment's lesson plan The Massachusetts 54th Regiment: Honoring the Heroes.
- Supplement EDSITEment's lesson plan Martin Puryear's Ladder for Booker T. Washington with a full-page biographical news feature on Booker T. Washington and his achievements that shows students how he was viewed by reporters in 1903.
- For more light-hearted Picturing America material from Chronicling America, check out this amusing article about a competition to satirize paintings of well-known artists of the time. The winner of the ""two hundred and fifty pennies"" prize went to a creative burlesque rendition of Mary Cassatt's A Caress, which would make for a wonderful visual aid for the EDSITEment spotlight on Mary Cassatt and her work.
- Use EDSITEment's feature about Thomas Eakins and leisure activities, Eakins' Vision of American Recreation — "In the good old summer time," to teach your students about what Americans did to have fun at the turn of the century. This 1904 sports page highlights sculling, the subject of many of Eakins' paintings, and also provides reports on other popular sports of the time. Search here for to explore how baseball, football, and amusement parks provided entertainment in American life in the early 1900s.
Below are some other links to artists showcased in Picturing America as they appeared in turn of the century newspapers.
- A short piece from a local paper on Albert Bierstadt's visit to Salt Lake City
- An ad for an New York gallery exhibition of Childe Hassam's works
- One of Winslow Homer's paintings used as a newspaper illustration
- For instance, to enhance EDSITEment's lesson plan Nature and Culture Detectives: Investigating Jack London's White Fang, Chronicling America offers a newspaper advertisement for London's White Fang from when the novel first was published.
- This newspaper article about Mark Twain's death and legacy complements EDSITEment's lesson plan Mark Twain and American Humor by helping students contextualize Twain in American literary history.
- While they study Walt Whitman's poetry in EDSITEment's lesson plan Walt Whitman's Notebooks and Poetry: The Sweep of the Universe, students might also enjoy getting to know Whitman a little more personally through this article about his conservative views as described by one of his close friends.
- Or have students check out this article on the haiku, or "hokku" as it was called at the turn of the century, while learning about haiku through EDSITEment's lesson plan The World of Haiku.
Historical newspapers provide valuable primary source material because they allow students to investigate the past directly.
- Students can trace the history of Thomas Edison's inventions through EDSITEment's lesson plan Thomas Edison's Inventions in the 1900s and Today: From "New" to You! and this fascinating article on the history of the incandescent bulb from Chronicling America.
- Technological innovation isn't always entirely beneficial, however. Read Upton Sinclair's first hand account of the abuse that accompanied the industrial revolution while studying The Industrial Age in America: Sweatshops, Steel Mills, and Factories from EDSITEment.
- Like Sinclair, women at the turn of the century were fighting for social change. Enhance EDSITEment's lesson plan Voting Rights for Women: Pro- and Anti-Suffrage with an article that reveals the opinions of prominent turn of the century women on suffrage.
- Use Chronicling America to find out how First Lady Edith Roosevelt was covered in the newspapers of her time. Learn more about the role of first ladies through history in EDSITEment's lesson plan Remember the Ladies: The First Ladies.
- In 2009, EDSITEment honored the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth with a wealth of resources and lesson plans in our Teaching Abraham Lincoln portal. Pair one of the resources you find here with this article on the laying of the foundation stone for the Lincoln Memorial to help students understand the significance of Lincoln's legacy.
You might also be interested in reading about:
- Woodrow Wilson's political career before he became President of the United States;
- reflections on the cost of the American Civil War;
- the history of presidential inaugurations from George Washington to William Howard Taft.