about this site

Welcome to Picturing United States History: An Interactive Resource for Teaching with Visual Evidence, a project of the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning at the City University of New York Graduate Center, with funding support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Picturing U.S. History is designed to help teachers and students use visual materials to understand the American past in history, literature, American Studies, and other humanities classrooms.

Founded in 1981, the American Social History Project/Center for Media and Learning produces print, visual, and multimedia materials about the working men and women whose actions and beliefs shaped U.S. history. Picturing U.S. History grew out of several past and current American Social History Project efforts, beginning with our Who Built America? textbook (third edition, Bedford Books, 2008), video documentaries, and CD-ROMs. Among other attributes, these projects gained a reputation for using visual evidence as a key aspect of chronicling and interpreting the U.S. past. This approach continued in our many Web projects, including History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, a gateway to Web resources for the U.S. History survey, and The Lost Museum: Exploring Antebellum Life and Culture, a 3-D re-creation of P. T. Barnum's American Museum. In addition, our advocacy of rigorous engagement with visual evidence informed our extensive faculty development work with high school and college instructors, in particular Learning to Look: New Media, Visual Resources, and Humanities Education, a program designed to promote the use of visual materials in the humanities classroom.

With the wealth of materials now available to users of the Web, Picturing U.S. History is dedicated to promoting the incorporation of a variety of visual evidence in the humanities classroom, not merely as illustrative material but as integral to any examination of the past. The site consists of the following sections:

Lessons in Looking: Four model instructional resources that use visual materials to facilitate understanding of four separate historical eras, ranging from the late eighteenth century to the early twentieth century. Each one has been created by a collaborative team of an art/visual culture scholar and a U.S. historian with attention paid to the historical and pedagogical approaches to the topic. The Lessons contain background essays on the historical and visual context of these eras along with interactive student activities that ask students to look and learn.

Web Resources: Annotated guides to the most useful visual archives online, a place to go to find rich visual resources on U.S. history amidst the wealth of material on the Web.

Forums: Six online discussions on different eras in U.S. history that focus on teaching with visual evidence; each is lead by an expert in that era’s visual and historical materials and themes. Forums will be conducted over 2008 and 2009 and archived for later review.

Visual Evidence Essays: Six essays written by the forum moderators that will introduce each topic as well as serve as a bibliographic and teaching resource.

Reviews: Discussion of important books, museum exhibitions, digital exhibitions, and other resources that help educators and other users locate new materials that use visual evidence to better understand the American past.

My Favorite Image: Educators across the country offer short essays on particular images that they have used in the classroom; the authors include strategies for looking and teaching with each image.

Contact us:
American Social History Project/
Center for Media and Learning
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10016
Tel: 212.817.1966

Created and Produced by: Pennee Bender, Joshua Brown, Donna Thompson Ray
Lead Historian: David Jaffee, Bard Graduate Center
Design: Andrea Ades Vasquez
Original Art: Joshua Brown
Programming: Aaron Knoll, Andre Pitanga, Kimon Keramidas, Steve Kennedy, and Steve Tellis
Web Resource reviews: David Parsons
Research, Writing, and Technical Assistant: Nicholas Stone

Lessons in Looking:
Early America — Phyllis Hunter, University of North Carolina, and Paul Staiti, Mount Holyoke College
Antebellum America — Sarah Burns, Indiana University, and Joshua Brown, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Gilded Age America — Barbara Balliet, Rutgers University, and Katherine Manthorne, The Graduate Center, CUNY
Inter-War America — Jonathan Holloway, Yale University, and Cheryl Finley, Cornell University

Content Advisors:
Michele H. Bogart, Professor of Art History, Stony Brook University, SUNY
Elizabeth Hutchinson, Assistant Professor of Art History, Barnard College
Louis Masur, Kenan Professor of American Institutions and Values, Trinity College
Barbara Clark Smith, Curator of Social History, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution
Deborah Willis, Professor and Chair, Department of Photography and Imaging and Africana Studies, New York University

Educational Advisors:
Angela Darrenkamp, Teacher, Owen J. Roberts School District
Peter Felten, Associate Professor and Director, Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, Elon University
Lori Eklund, Director of Outreach, Amon Carter Museum
Kathleen Lewis, Professor of History, Spelman College, GA
Tracey Weiss, Professor of History, Millersville University, PA

Creative Commons Copyright Information

Picturing U.S. History by American Social History Project is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at www.picturinghistory.gc.cuny.edu.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.picturinghistory.gc.cuny.edu/about.php Permission to use images have been obtained from their respective right's holders. Creative Commons license pretains to textual content, layout, and original textual works.