This post is by Anne Holmes of the Library of Congress.
Describe what you do at the Library of Congress.
In addition to administering the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry position, the Poetry and Literature Center at the Library of Congress hosts an annual literary event season, coordinates the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction and the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, and offers an assortment of online initiatives geared toward enhancing the public’s appreciation of literature. As the PLC’s digital content manager, I focus on all things related to the Center’s online presence: I manage our blog, keep website content up to date, oversee digitization efforts for the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, and coordinate online programs like Poetry of America and Poetry 180. Most recently, I helped launch the Poetry and Literature Center’s inaugural podcast series, From the Catbird Seat, which features archived recordings of poets reading and discussing their work at the Library alongside interviews with contemporary poets and writers who can give some behind-the-scenes insight into those recordings.
What is your favorite item from the Library’s online collections?
I spend a lot of time with the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, and one recording I return to again and again is of Gwendolyn Brooks giving her opening reading as consultant in poetry on September 30, 1985. Before John Broderick, the assistant librarian for research services, even takes the stage to introduce the newly appointed laureate, you can hear the din of excited murmurs and coos from the Coolidge Auditorium crowd—an especially lucky crowd, considering that 300 to 400 people had been turned away at the door after the auditorium reached capacity.
Brooks, the first black woman appointed as Consultant in Poetry (a title that, the following year, would be established by an act of Congress as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry), begins her inaugural reading by discussing what she hopes to accomplish during her forthcoming year in the catbird seat. She says:
I’ll be interested in exposing poetry of quality, whatever its source, to the Library of Congress and the community it influences—a big, big community. I’ll be interested in registering on the public consciousness and conscience the generally neglected richness of ‘minority poetry.’ Other than that, I’ll answer letters, introduce programs of poetry, pilot ‘reading lunches’ (that’s my idea, and I expect to have a lot of fun with that, and so will the poets), participate in the recording of exciting poets and get recognized the work and voices of some of our remarkable young who will be major tomorrow. Once Richard Wright, T.S. Eliot, Margaret Atwood, Lucille Clifton, Mari Evans, and once William Butler Yeats were children and teens.
She then segues into a reading of her work, including her iconic poem “We Real Cool” (at 20:13). Each time I listen to this recording, I am transported into the audience and feel so incredibly lucky to share, even just for an hour or so, the same space and time with Gwendolyn Brooks.
Why should teachers incorporate more poetry into classroom activities?
Engaging students with poetry encourages their curiosity, and invites them into conversations with diverse voices and experiences they may not have encountered before. At its core, poetry is all about discovery! If students are given the chance to enter a poem’s world (or to create it), take a look around, and observe the way it thinks and feels through language, then they are tapping into new vocabularies and modes of understanding. Poetry not only teaches new ways of interacting with language—it also fosters empathy and community.
Tell us about a memorable interaction with a patron.
During the 2016-17 school year, the Poetry and Literature Center worked with Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera to launch his second-term online project, “The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon,” a bilingual, illustrated, narrative poem. Juan Felipe and illustrator Juana Medina invited second and third graders (and their teachers and school librarians) from around the country to imagine how Catalina’s story would continue, collaboratively respond to a prompt at the end of each chapter, and submit their responses to propel the adventure forward.
For months, our inboxes flooded with wild, imaginative submissions from second and third grade classrooms, which we would read in the office before passing along to Juan Felipe. Engaging with these collaborations and then corresponding with the participating teachers and librarians was such an incredible reminder that poetry is a unifying force.
What’s one thing you’d like to tell teachers about the materials that you work with?
The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature is a treasure trove of primary sources. As the Library continues to digitize these historic recordings and stream them online, the archive becomes more accessible and alive than ever. Visual texts may seem more approachable at first, but it can often be so much more engaging and enveloping to listen to a writer read their work against the cultural backdrop it was written. Listening can more naturally force us to slow down, observe what’s going on, and discover new paths for understanding.
Constitution Day is right around the corner, and there’s no better time to explore two new interactives that support student inquiry into Congress and civic participation.
These two new applications, the latest in a series of projects supported by the Library, use primary sources to transport students to some of the most dramatic turning points in U.S. history and immerse them in the related debates. Whether they’re sifting facts from propaganda in the news coverage of labor unrest or asking probing questions about America’s founding preambles, students are given the tools they need to investigate complex questions. Both applications, as well as three that launched in 2016, are accessible on the Library’s Web site for teachers.
Each project takes a different approach to the subjects, but at the core of each are the rich historical primary sources that the Library makes freely available at loc.gov.
DBQuest, developed by iCivics, teaches history and civics through the use of primary source documents and evidence-based learning. It offers a platform, accessible with mobile devices, that reinforces evidence-based reasoning and Document Based Questioning by teaching students to identify and evaluate evidence, contextualize information, and write sound supporting arguments.
Case Maker, developed by Bean Creative, is a customizable system for inquiry-based learning for K-12 students using primary sources from the Library of Congress. Modeled after the ‘observe, reflect, question,’ framework developed under the Teaching with Primary Sources program, Case Maker guides students to challenge a question, collect evidence, and make a case.
For more information about the Congressional grant opportunity that supported the development of these apps, see our News and Events page for updates. A third group of organizations was selected in 2018 – their projects are scheduled to launch in 2020.
Just in time for Constitution Day, the Library’s newest primary source set centers on Alexander Hamilton, a key contributor to the shaping and debate surrounding the U.S. Constitution. Your students may already know Hamilton as the nation’s first treasury secretary, the face on the $10 bill, or the leader of the Federalist Party (one of America’s earliest political parties), among other notable roles. This primary source set invites students to explore the life, influence, and legacy of Hamilton through manuscripts written in his own hand, illustrations (historical and modern-day), maps, newspapers, books (including Thomas Jefferson’s copy of The Federalist), and more. Also included in the set are suggested approaches to primary source analysis, which you may wish to introduce in your classroom.
This Hamilton primary source set is also highlighted, alongside the dozens of other sets curated by the Library of Congress, in the “Sources and Strategies” section of the September 2018 issue of the National Council for the Social Studies’ journal, Social Education.
Using a note written by Thomas Jefferson as an access point, the article offers some insight into the production of the Federalist Papers, the collection of 85 political essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, that were designed to coax New York voters to support passage of the Constitution. Moreover, the article explores some of the deliberate mystery that surrounded the essays’ authorship—that is, the fact that the authors wrote under the pseudonym “Publius.”
When the essays began appearing in New York newspapers in October 1787 (about six weeks after the Constitutional Convention), curiosity about their authorship seized many readers—including Thomas Jefferson. And so, in his copy of The Federalist (the printed collection of the Federalist Papers), which he had received in 1788 (presumably from Angelica Schuyler Church, the sister-in-law of Alexander Hamilton), Jefferson did something he rarely did in books: he wrote a note. In it, he attributed authors to each of the 85 essays.
Using Jefferson’s note as a lens, the article offers suggestions for teachers on how to help their students develop a more nuanced understanding of the debates that surrounded not only the Federalist Papers, but the Constitution itself. In addition, it invites students to explore the varying political positions and perspectives that were at play—including those of the Federalists, anti-Federalists, as well as those of the essays’ authors themselves.
Overall, through primary source analysis, the article aims to inspire students to investigate this influential compilation of essays further; gain a deeper grasp of its concept; and also, broaden their appreciation for its impact on American politics, government, and society.
Please let us know if you use any of these resources or approaches in your classroom!
This is a guest post by Sam Klotz, who developed the primary source set “Civil War Photographs: New Technologies and New Uses.” Sam is a graduate of Stanford University and worked with the Library’s education team as a Liljenquist Family Fellow.
When I was conducting research for the Library of Congress primary source set “Civil War Photographs: New Technologies and New Uses,” I learned way more about photographic technologies that were used before the Civil War than I could fit into the brief teacher’s guide. Here’s a bit of what I learned about the calotype and the daguerreotype.
Invented in 1839 in Paris by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, the daguerreotype was a photograph printed on a copper plate coated with light sensitive chemicals before exposure. Because of its intense detail and attractive shiny surface, it achieved success as a cheaper alternative to oil painting for portraiture, even though to have a daguerreotype taken, the subject had to sit facing direct light for a minute or longer without blinking or moving.
Some people criticized daguerreotypes for metaphysical reasons. French writer Honore de Balzac believed that people were made up of layers of skin and each time one had a daguerreotype taken, that person lost a layer of skin and thus a piece of his or her essence. Relatively inefficient and expensive compared to technologies like the ambrotype or tintype, the daguerreotype eventually went out of fashion later in the 19th century.
The calotype was the first ever negative-to-positive image process: a piece of paper bathed in chemicals so that it became light sensitive was placed inside the camera, which recorded a negative image on the paper upon exposure to light. These calotype negatives were then printed in positive on salted paper, a paper made light sensitive by being bathed in a chemical solution. Calotypes and salted paper were invented in England by William Henry Fox Talbot in the 1840s and were recognizable for their soft texture and lack of detail, instead emphasizing tone.
Calotypes never caught on in the United States, as the American public preferred the shine and detail of the daguerreotype, brought to the United States by Samuel Morse, over the soft tones of the calotype. By the 1860s, calotypes were largely out of use because of the development of the wet-plate/collodion process.
However, despite their lack of longevity, both calotypes and daguerreotypes are extremely important processes in the history of the photographic medium. The daguerreotype was the first mode of photography ever invented, while the calotype was the first negative to positive photographic technology, providing the basis for photographic technologies still in use today.
For more examples of each, plus a teacher’s guide, visit the primary source set “Civil War Photographs: New Technologies and New Uses.” You might ask your students to discuss how the amount of time and effort required to create an image might affect what they decide to photograph. Let us know how they respond in the comments.
As the school year gets underway, we’d like to welcome old friends and new to another year of the Teaching with the Library of Congress blog!
We’re dedicated to helping teachers and students discover powerful primary sources from the Library of Congress as well as effective strategies for using them in the classroom. The best place to start is at the Library’s online portal for teachers, loc.gov/teachers, where you’ll find a peerless collection of free teaching tools and professional development.
This year we’re pleased to announce the launch of two new primary source sets that allow teachers and students to use unique artifacts from the Library to explore key topics in U.S. history and culture.
The Library’s new Alexander Hamilton primary source set introduces students to this important–and newly popular–figure from the nation’s early years. From personal letters to the essays in which he championed the ratification of the Constitution to newspaper coverage of his fatal duel with Aaron Burr, this set lets students explore the pages where it happened: the documents one remarkable person used to help shape a nation.
Students can use one sport as a lens to study periods of transformation for the U.S. in the Library’s newly updated primary source set Baseball Across a Changing Nation. From its first arrival on American shores, baseball has both reflected and advanced changes in society, including westward expansion, urbanization, racial integration, and struggles for participation by women. This set is packed with photos, sheet music, newspaper articles, and baseball cards that allow students to examine these changes and the people behind them.
We look forward to hearing what you do with these Library of Congress teacher resources and more this coming year! Subscribe to this blog to stay up on the latest for teachers from the Library and follow us on Twitter at @TeachingLC. Keep us posted!
This post was written by Tamara Rorie of the Library of Congress.
Describe what you do at the Library of Congress.
I’m the Braille Officer for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS). I work as a liaison between various sections of NLS as they interact with our braille products. I am part of the group at NLS that produces braille books and I work with the quality control section that reviews the final products before they are released to the public. I am also developing requirements and specifications for a new braille reader that NLS hopes to distribute in the near future, and I oversee the contract for our braille instruction and certification courses, which train braille transcribers seeking employment in school systems.
What is your favorite item from the Library’s online collections?
I am most apt to access the collections provided by NLS. First, since I am totally blind, I am a patron of the services and have been since I was very young, so I use the materials as a consumer. I am an avid and voracious reader, and I regularly use the braille and audiobook collections. However, the braille and audio magazine collection is probably the most useful for me as a consumer. Accessible books may be available from other sources, but the NLS magazine collection is unique because the periodicals include all of the articles and are completely accessible (unlike online periodicals) and exclude advertisements and pictures. When there is an important picture, image or figure, (unlike the information that can be accessed online) it is adequately described and therefore more usable.
What’s one thing that users don’t expect to find in the resources available from the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped?
It is widely known that NLS offers the world’s largest collection of accessible music for blind and low vision users. However, most people are surprised to know that the music collection includes a large amount of self-instructional material for a variety of instruments. Even material not necessarily developed for the blind can be uniquely suited to the blind if it adequately describes fingering and provides audio examples of what it should sound like. This instructional material is particularly important to the blind population since most instructional videos assume that the user is looking at the demonstration. The descriptions are unique to the NLS material.
Explain how the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped can support teachers and media specialists in their daily activities.
The services at NLS can be particularly useful for teachers of the visually impaired or media specialists who need information or resources on or for people who are blind or have multiple disabilities. These services are especially helpful for educators who do not generally work in the area defined as exceptional children. NLS has a reference department that specializes in assisting the public with finding information about blindness. Upon request, NLS can also provide teaching resources such as braille alphabet cards to assist in explaining how braille works.
What’s one thing you’d like to tell teachers?
Regardless of where you live in the U.S. you can get immediate services and resources for your students – and NLS services are free! NLS is unique in that it provides support for local area libraries which provide the direct services to our patrons. Every state and territory has at least one local library, possibly more, that is directly connected to NLS and provides NLS’s braille and talkingbooks on loan to the patrons in their local areas. Because the network libraries are local, the services can be provided in person if that’s necessary.
Second, as mentioned earlier, as with many other areas of the Library of Congress, NLS has a staff of reference librarians who are not only experts in finding resources and information about blindness and any other print related disability, but also prepare and distribute excellent reference materials on a wide variety of issues. These materials are comprehensive, up-to-date and free upon request.
Finally, I think it’s important to mention that braille that comes from NLS has been rigorously proofread. Therefore, educators who provide our books to their students can be assured that the transcriptions are as technically correct as possible. This is particularly important for younger readers who are just learning the braille code.
This post is by George Thuronyi of the Library of Congress.
Describe what you do at the Library of Congress.
My job is to educate and provide outreach to the public about the U.S. Copyright Office and copyright-related topics. So, on any given day, I answer questions about how creative people can register their copyrights, send out a tweet about fun facts, and talk to people interested in learning about how to be responsible users of copyrighted works. I’m lucky to work with a great team of professionals dedicated to spreading knowledge.
What is your favorite item from the Library’s online collections?
I’m fond of all the comic books. Many were submitted as copyright deposits and would most likely have been lost to history if they hadn’t been submitted for copyright registration.
Tell us about a memorable interaction with a Library visitor.
I met with a group of students, each of whom created a poem or drawing. I explained to them that their creative works were immediately protected by copyright.
One of the students registered her poem through copyright.gov and received an official registration certificate. She was thrilled! She and the other students learned about the importance of taking that extra step to create a public record of their intellectual property.
Explain why it is important for teachers to care about copyright.
Through an understanding of basic copyright-related concepts, teachers can help their students benefit from the copyright law and be responsible users of other people’s works. It’s never too early for students to learn!
What’s one thing you’d like to tell teachers about the Copyright Office?
This post is by Kendall Deese, an undergraduate student at American University and a 2018 Library of Congress Junior Fellow.
As mentioned in my previous blog post, I am one of 40 Junior Fellows at the Library of Congress this summer, and I have been working on researching women in baseball and updating the Library’s primary source set for educators on baseball.
There are many primary source sets on the Library’s Web site for teachers that educators can look through and use in their own classrooms. The sets range from Thanksgiving, to World War I, to baseball, and to many other topics. No matter what subject educators are teaching, they will most likely be able to find something related to it in at least one of the Library’s primary source sets. This summer I searched through the Library’s online collections to find the best 18 primary sources to update the baseball primary source set.
When I decided that I wanted to do my project on women in baseball, I started researching a women’s baseball team from the early decades of the twentieth century known as the Bloomer Girls. The Bloomer Girls were teams of women, and sometimes two men, who would travel the United States and play men’s semi-professional baseball teams–and the women would often win.
Bloomer Girls teams seem to have mostly been in major cities, like New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and so on. I was able to find a number of pictures of the many Bloomer Girls teams.
One of my favorite articles that I found was about Ida Schnall. She was the captain of the New York Female Giants, the Bloomer Girls team in New York, but decided that she wanted to pursue a career in acting, so she moved to Los Angeles. When she discovered that there was not a Bloomer Girls team in LA, she decided to create her own. With the help of a few other actresses, she created the Feminine Baseball Club at Los Angeles, where she was the captain and manager.
Throughout this whole process, I have been able to find some of the most incredible pictures and newspaper clippings. These are just two of my favorite, but there are many more that can be found on the Library’s Web site if you search for information about the Bloomer Girls.
It has been so incredible to work here over the past 10 weeks, and even though, after the summer ends, I will only be a few miles away at school, I will miss it very much.
This post is by Katherine Blood, Curator of Fine Prints in the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress.
As part of the Library’s “Anime for All” event series in conjunction with the Asian pop-culture convention Otakon, we’ve put together a special public display highlighting Japanese graphic arts and storytelling. It includes some spectacular portraits of heroic warriors, including a portrait of Hangaku Gozen, a historical woman warrior who lived around the year 1200, as well as a depiction of the famous 17th-century samurai swordsman, writer, and artist Miyamoto Musashi. Both come from the Library’s collection of about 2,500 Japanese color woodblocks from the Edo Period (1603-1868) that are part of a special genre called ukiyo-e, or pictures of the floating or sorrowful world.
Very broadly, these artworks reflected life in the pleasure and theater districts in Edo (now Tokyo) including the celebrity culture of beautiful women, kabuki idols, and dashing samurai. The sorrowful part refers to Buddhist concepts of impermanence and the idea that this “floating” world of pleasurable diversions was transitory. Ukiyo-e subject matter embraced all that was new and fashionable but also classical themes from Japanese literature, poetry, history, and mythology.
Though ukiyo-e images are celebrated for their artistic and technical mastery today, they were initially considered a popular form of mass entertainment. In this sense, they’ve been compared to contemporary Japanese manga comic art. Both feature highly narrative, story-telling images. Also like manga, these images were very affordable. It is said that you could buy a print for about the cost of a bowl of noodles.
In addition to parallels with manga, ukiyo-e prints have had a powerful, lasting influence on generations of artists in Europe, the United States, Japan, and beyond. The Library’s visual art collections are rich in examples by such artist/printmakers as Mary Cassatt, Keiji Shinohara, and Roger Shimomura. Japanese aesthetic influence can also be traced through examples in our poster, comic art, and illustration collections. One of our most recent acquisitions is a digital print called Vastra & Jenny by illustrator and cartoonist Bill Mudron in which the artist has dropped characters from the BBC sci-fi television series Doctor Who into an ukiyo-e snow scene (the original woodcut is preserved at the Library) by Hiroshige and Kunisada.
To discover more of these fascinating works of art, explore the Library’s collection of Japanese woodblock prints and drawings and the Library of Congress online exhibition The Floating World of Ukiyo-e: Dreams, Shadows, and Substance.
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Start: 01 May 2017 | End: 01 Mar 2018