In the fall of 2014, two History professors at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia piloted techniques for bringing non-history majors to an archive as part of class work. They were inspired by the Students and Faculty in the Archives Program of the Brooklyn Historical Society and worked closely with HSP staff to create lessons that met their educational needs.
Dr. Hyson: Forging the Modern World Class
St. Joseph's University
For the archival visits, Dr. Hyson chose to use documents from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia in order to focus on the course themes of industrialization, nationalism, and imperialism. The documents and visuals of the Centennial provided his students with an understanding of what was important to the people involved as well as why this event was important to the history of Philadelphia. His class contained mostly business majors; therefore the exhibits were able to appeal to the majority by focusing on the business practices and changes of the nineteenth century. For example, students were asked to look at visitors responses to new technologies and analyze their significance. Providing the students with the visual representations and personal accounts allowed for enhanced critical thinking of the class themes and connected students to the Centennial. In meeting with HSP staff and Dr. Hyson following the class visit, it was decided that fewer stations, roughly four, with more time rather than many stations with only a short time provided the best results. This way students had sufficient time and were able to design a well thoughtout analysis prior to moving on. To receive a better understanding of the project, please utilize the links below which contain an overview of the project and the stations.
Dr. Miller: US History Survey Course
St. Joseph's University
The theme of this visit was focused on studying the Civil War through personal perspectives. It was part of a general U.S. history survey course that included an assignment for students to find, read, and analyze either a diary or set of letters from the Civil War and write a historical introduction to such material, much as a scholar would do if editing them for publication. This class, from Saint Joseph’s University, was mostly comprised of education majors. Personal diaries and letters from the Civil War provided a first-hand account of how men and women experienced the nation’s “ordeal by fire” as well as encouraged students to think about how they might want to use primary sources in their own classrooms. Since these stations had less visuals and more writing, the students had to invest time in learning to read and decipher the handwriting. Students prepared for the visit to HSP by reading a manuscript diary online, doing primary source exercises, and reading secondary accounts on the Civil War and the role of Philadelphia during the War. Still, one problem that developed was that the slow process of reading the manuscript materials sometimes caused students to focus too much on the details of the document and lose the bigger picture being told in the documents. When HSP staff and Dr. Miller assessed the visit, they agreed that the project would work better if students were responsible for fewer documents and were more attentive to the context of each work. To receive a better understanding of the project, use the link below; this provides the stations and supplementary questions.