Random Thoughts: Change, Primary Sources & Other Stuff

Archive for the ‘Life Long Interests’ Category

catalogA delightful display greets visitors arriving at the home of a Minnesota Media Services and
Instructional Technology Program Director. Click the photo to view these reminders of school library media center things past in more detail! How many of these artifacts do you remember?  How many were part of your career? Are some things puzzling?

Enjoy. . . reminisce. . .  think about how much school media centers and technology have changed since 1980.   Change is sometimes hard to see when we are part of it!  Celebrate!

Jane Prestebak, the owner of this collection, would like to know if anyone  has a book that held the cards that one checked magazines in with?  “What’s it called?”  She hopes someone “can part with one of those magazine thingys.”

A picture really is worth a thousand words!



ISS America Staircaset’s a tiny museum in the corner of our store  was how the store employee at Lake Superior Publishing company described a collection of treasures from the S.S. America.  The  ship sunk near Isle Royale National Park in 1928.  Salvage work began in the 1960’s.  The little museum’s artifacts include the ship’s spiral staircase, dishes and a sink. Additional excavated artifacts will be on display in 2014.  It was a fun and interesting discovery. Learn more about the America and other Isle Royale Shipwrecks.

Another interesting discovery was the local history museum in Dows, Iowa, two miles off Interstate 35. Like many small town museums, the museum is in a restored railroad depot. The museum also houses the Iowa Welcome Center.   It was full of nicely displayed historic artifacts such as  an organ, military materials and railroad items. The trains still stop at Dow for grain. My favorite artifacts old telephone switchboard complete with plugs for connecting calls. I was alwaDowIoways fascinated by the local switchboards and “party lines.   Other museum properties in this town of 500 includes a blacksmith museum, a Mercantile, and  restored schoolhouse, all listed on the National Register of Historic places. The residents of this very small community can be proud of the rich access to their community’s right in their own backyard.

What’s in your backyard? How can we engage students in the study of local history?
Online class for educators: Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources

SS America_Newspaper

What do we collect? Why do we fill our desks, cupboards, and shelves with jewelry boxes, athletic event tickets, or matchbooks?

Curious Collectables, a Winona County History Center exhibit, tells us that people have been collecting for centuries; museums were started so people couldBedpans show off what they collected.  This current exhibit includes items from the Historical Society’s own collections and others dressbrought in by Society members. Collectables displayed include  yardsticks, thimbles, chain breakers, gnomes, postcards and coffee mugs from all 50 states, canning jar lids, malformed hardware, and Native American snowshoes. Clothing includes beautiful gowns such as one from the 1850’s, some from the Jazz Age, and army helmets.  Porcelain bedpans are especially unique and attention getting!

Minnesota State University professor and archivist Terry Stoptaugh said we collect to stimulate memory. It was fun to playbillsreminisce as I sorted through my personal collection of theatre playbills. Several from local professional, community and school productions are displayed for others to enjoy. It’s fun to share and perhaps evoke memories in people who  see their own name in a playbill.

What do you collect?  What stories would  your personal display tell?

Credits: Winona County History Center, April 2013.
Create a personal display in an online class: Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources 

ShowBoatPlaybillMy collection of playbills began in the late 60’s when my high school English teacher introduced us to Shakespeare and took us to plays. We saw Richard Burton as Hamlet in the 1964 movie and plays at area colleges. I loved the St. Mary’s University Theater department’s performance of Sheridan’s The Rivals and put the program the fan-shaped program trimmed with doilies in my scrapbook.When I was a college student I attended Winona State University theatre department productions, had a very small role in the controversial St. Mary’s production of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade and ushered at many others.

AresenicOldLaceMy collection grew to include programs for countless plays I enjoyed at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, 70’s era musical such as Hair and Godspell in Chicago, Winona Summer Theater, Lacrosse Community Theatre, and even programs for plays I co-redirected Caledonia High School.  Among these treasures are programs for The Man Who Came To Dinner, The Skin of our Teeth, Arsenic and Old Lace, and You Can’t Take it With You.  It’s fun to remember the students; it’s even more fun when I see them at a theater event.

CoyasHousePlaybillPlaybills from the 1990s bring back memories many trips Minneapolis to see Broadway touring productions of musicals such as Showboat at the Ordway, Cats at Northrup Auditorium, In Coya’s House at St. Paul’s History Theater, or dinner shows at The Chanhassen Dinner Theater.   Other programs evoke memories of going to the Milwaukee Rep or theaters in other cities. A huge part of the collection is over 50 programs from Lanesboro’s  Commonweal Theatre.

Some surprises.  Have I really seen The Fantasticks 5 or 6 times?   I was convinced I had only seen twice before seeing the Great River Shakespeare Festival’s production.   I can’t remember a thing about the Merry Wives of Windsor, but I apparently saw it at the Guthrie many years ago.

Lasting connections.   The box has several playbills from Winona Community Theatre productions from the late 1980’s – early 1990’s.  I was on the theatre board and was a stage manager for a couple. Some of the people I work with as a volunteer for the Great River Shakespeare people are people I met through Community theatre.  My expanding collection of Great River Shakespeare Festival playbills documents the festival’s history, actors, staff and my involvement as a Friend of Will.

Regrettably, I’ve tossed some programs from the past few years.   Those hundreds of playbills I kept tell stories about of my love of the theatre, places I’ve been, plays I’ve enjoyed, people I’ve met.  They tell the stories of theatres, the people who make them happen and for many, the community and regions strong support for the arts.  It’s impossible to name a favorite in this collection of treasures; each tells a story!

What have you collected?  Could you use your collection to make a personal primary source display?
How can I  use primary resources in the media center and classroom or to support Common Core Standards?
Teaching Digital Media Literacy in the Content Areas: Using Primary Sources 

1940 RCA radioWhat team won the first professional basketball tournament in 1939? What high school  team won the 1960 Minnesota State High School League Tournament?

The March 21 Minneapolis Star Tribune featured highlights of past state high school basketball  tournaments with special emphasis on small town Edgerton’s championship victory over a team from a much larger school and city. It’s an unforgettable game for many Minnesotans; I listened with my father.

A reader stumbled upon my blog searching for basketball primary sources.   It’s a good excuse for me to write about one of my favorite topics!

Team stats are a good starting place. Live stats are availability instantly and archived on university and professional team websites.  I explore the stats after every Winona State U.  game and check conference and national rankings often.  It’s amazing to see just how much data can be generated from a spreadsheet and in how many ways it can be displayed.  ( I used basketball stats to learn the fundamentals of  Inspire Data.) My favorite artifacts include newspaper clippings, posters, photos, tickets, program booklets and souvenirs.   The Run, a book celebrating the team’s national championships is a collection of interviews with players, their families, fans, support staff and others. Written by a university professor, the book tells stories that might not otherwise been preserved.

Friends and I were in the right place at the right time at AASL in Minneapolis last fall when a Follett Library Company representative nvited us to meet  Kareem Abdul Jabbar!  We didn’t hesitate a minute before heading to  a reception and preview of On the Shoulder of Giants, a documentary film based on Jabbar’s book about the Harlem Rens professional basketball team, the first winner of a national professional basketball tournament. The film shows game clips, player interviews and primary source videos of basketball games and the racial and cultural environment of the Harlem Renaissance era.  I almost could see the curriculum connections churning in the minds of educators who viewed the film.

Primary sources are all around us! They tell our stories and they help us understand our cultural.  Basketball stats, game clips and player interviews might be just the ticket we need to connect  kids with primary sources.

P.S. I still have that  1940’s era radio! I turn it on every now and then just to check; the Star Spangled Banner was playing as I took the photo!

We have all asked students  “What interests you?”   What interests you often the toughest part when beginning a research process.   If we’re passionate about a topic, or perhaps only interested, the “information finding” process is fun.

What are the facts behind the novels “A Flickering Light, and Absence soGreat? by Oregon author Jane Kirkpatrick?  Kirkpatrick based the historical fiction novels on the life of  her grandmother, Winona, Minnesota, photographer  Jessie Gaebele, and her grandfather, photographer FJ Bauer.   She relied on interviews with family members and  primary sources including family letters, photos and diaries to gather information for her novels.  She researched the Winona County Historical Society archives, read other historical accounts and examined city directories in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where Jessie also worked.

As I read the novel I kept turning to the map of Winona in the early 1900’s to see the locations of the homes, businesses and photography studios mentioned in the books. Curious about the real places described I drove around Winona to see what is in those locations 100 years later.   The  homes are intact; the studios have been replaced by new structures.  The Winona historic newspaper archives provided glimpses of advertising for the FJ Bauer and Polonia Photography studios.

Polonia Studio

Polonia Studio ad, Winona Republican Herald, March 8, 1913.

My search of the American Memory collections yielded nothing about or by Jessie Gaebele, but I did a photo of Lake Winona and Sugarloaf similar to one Jessie took.  The author’s website provided additional information and photos not included in the book. It was a  wonderfully fun treasure hunt inspired by an interest in Winona, primary sources and photography.    What interests you?

Learn how you can use primary sources to locate resources that support books you enjoy or books your students read.
Teaching with Primary Sources, Online Course Information: http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/primarysources.cfm

Register Online: http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/register.cfm

Discovering the “facts” behind historical fiction captures my attention.   When I read  Jamie Ford’s The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet I began searching Ansel Adams Manzanar photos to find photos  representative of scenes described in the Minidoka  internment camp portion of the novel. I got excited when I learned the Hotel is a real place where you can go for tea or to see artifacts the Japanese families left behind when they were removed from Seattle.    A few hours later the Wall Street Journal arrived with an article about the Minidoka Swing band, a group comprised on musicians who may have lived in an internment camp or are children of parents who were interred. The timing of the article was an exciting  coincidence. (WSJ, March 6, 2010)

Today I went searching for the  homes and buildings that are the setting for Jane Kirkpatrick’s An Absence so Great.  The Bauer and Gaeble homes are homes to Winona families today,  just as they were in 1915.  The Bauer Photography Studio and the Polonia Studio have been replaced by newer buildings.   What fun to find an adds for both photography studios in the Winona Newspaper archives.

Primary sources abound all around us; they are abundant on the web.   They have the power to inspire creative teaching ideas, enhance student learning, and help students learn more about their communities.

Want to learn more?  The next session of an online class to help you find digital primary sources and develop teaching activities begins soon.

Learn more about the online course!
Teaching Information Literacy with Primary Sources
Comments from Past Students

Register Online: http://www.uwstout.edu/soe/profdev/register.cfm

Multimedia & Internet @ Schools articles
The Power of Primary Sources

The Power of Primary Sources Part 2: Build Your Own Professional Development
The Power of Primary Sources and Web 2.0

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