Teaching with Digital History

Food in the West: Using TimelineJS in the Classroom

By Julia M. Gossard

“Never underestimate the ‘hangry.’” This might as well be one of the learning objectives in my Foundations of Western Civilization course at Utah State University. Whether the bread riots of the 1790s in France, the “Hungry 1840s,” or the starvation of Russian citizens after the conclusion of World War II, food (and access to it) has continued to be a mobilizing factor in history. By examining what people ate and how they ate at different points in time, we can know a lot about a particular era’s economic conditions, social mores, political conflicts, religious issues, and nutrition.

Students in the Trenches: Using Operation War Diary to Teach the First World War

By Susan Corbesero

About a half hour into tagging frontline records in the Operation War Diary project, the room of high school sophomores erupted. “Rats! These trenches are filled with them.” “That’s not so bad; the officer here is talking about trench foot.” “It looks like 95 soldiers died on just this one day!” “My battalion doesn’t seem to move anywhere.” “Oh no! This unit is heading to Ypres.” As an educator, I could not have found the moment more gratifying.

Teaching with Digital Archives

“Dr. Rosinbum, come over here! We’ve got to show you this.” When I walked over, a group of students excitedly showed me a digitized copy of the December 10, 1884, edition of the Daily Morning Astorian. At the bottom of one of its two columns dedicated to news, and immediately following a reprinted travelogue of the Acoma Pueblo, the paper breathlessly reported a new spate of attacks on clergymen. The article, titled “Trial for Heresy,” stated that “(w)hen Old Satan wants to upset a minister’s usefulness he attacks him with a fit of dyspepsia.

November 30, 2017

Mapping the Early Modern World: Using Google Maps in the Classroom

By Julia M Gossard

While lecturing on Magellan’s famed voyage that circumnavigated the early modern world, I asked the student who had chosen to trace the voyage on a map if she had any further insights. Somewhat surprisingly she retorted, “Not historically, but it did take me a really long time to draw that line representing Magellan’s voyage. I can’t imagine having actually done it in the 16th century.” Her comment opened up an engaging (unplanned) discussion about the realities of sea travel, culture shock, and geography in the early modern world.

Blending Local and Spatial History: Using Carto to Create Maps in the History Classroom

By Lindsey Passenger Wieck

The most common way we interact with maps today is through apps and platforms like Google Maps. However, it is easy to forget that like anyone creating a document, map creators make practical and aesthetic decisions about what maps do and how they look. Helping students become critical consumers of maps and media was a crucial component of a class I taught on the history of San Francisco. 

September 25, 2017

Teaching w/ #DigHist in the New School Year

Since first publishing in August 2016, Teaching w/ #DigHist has offered a range of teaching tools to instructors interested in using digital history in the classroom. In particular, the series has highlighted how teaching with #dighist can provide new ways to present classroom content and develop transferable skills like critical thinking and data literacy. As the new school year begins, we encourage K–12 and higher education faculty to browse through our resources and to see how they could teach w/ #dighist this year. 

Exploring the Brutality of Expansion: Tracking Changes in the 19th Century with American Panorama

Years ago, while preparing for a lecture, I ran across a GIF depicting the territorial expansion of the United States. While I am unsure of its origins, I’ve seen similar maps in textbooks, Wikipedia articles, and Google images. The GIF—a simple rotating set of maps of the contiguous 48 states—swiftly changes color as the United States expands its territorial claims throughout the 19th century. Behind this series of images lies tremendous suffering; the projection of one on top of the other makes this effect especially jarring. 

“Wait . . . What?” Continuities, Changes, and Critical Thinking with Gapminder

“Wait, what just happened?” exclaimed one of my students. Last year, my US history class and I spent a day with Gapminder, a graph-based visualization program that charts more than 50 different historical indicators, from per-capita income, birth rate, and life expectancy to coal consumption and Internet use, on a Cartesian x-y axis over the course of 200+ years of world history.