Primary Sources With Some Help from Historypin

Today’s post comes from Kris Jarosik, education specialist at the National Archives at Chicago.

When funds for field trips are sparse or non-existent, turn to the next best thing – combining primary sources and geography using technology.Historypin app screenshot

During a recent teacher workshop, we partnered with the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County and used a website and app called Historypin to help teachers learn about the origins of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a New Deal program, and the lasting impact in our community.

Historypin brings you out into a community and allows you to see changes in the landscape with primary sources, such as photographs, overlaid or “pinned” on Google maps.

You can do the same for your students, whether it’s creating your own Historypin tour or collection, or using pre-existing samples.

Chicago CCC Workshop ParticipantsIn the case of our workshop, we decided on a local topic that would benefit from a visual treatment to help students learn about change over time and cause and effect. The remnants of the McDowell Grove CCC camp offered lessons not only about the scope of this New Deal program, but also about changing values in natural resource management (the conservation movement and today’s environmentalists).

With these objectives in mind, we identified historical photographs from the National Archives, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, and other local repositories. Scanning these images, uploading to Historypin, and crafting captions came next.  Historypin has created a downloadable guide and a set of “how to” video clips on YouTube to help.  We used a Historypin collection for our McDowell Grove exploration since most of the camp remains are not currently available on Google Street View.

Taking a tour and viewing historic photographs on-site with mobile devices and the Historypin app can allow you to see something like in these screenshots captured by one of the teachers who participated in our workshop.

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But if on-site, smartphone traversing is not feasible, head to the Historypin web site and have your students explore inside.  The tour option works exceptionally well for a computer experience.  For example, have students learn about the tumultuous 1960s with the National Archives’ 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago tour.

Thousands of cultural institutions and individuals around the world, including the National Archives and the Forest Preserve District of Du Page County, have Historypin profiles with tours and collections.  Have fun and help your students connect with history by using primary sources and geography to travel back to the past.

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3 Responses to Primary Sources With Some Help from Historypin

  1. alicia dorsey says:

    thanks for sharing, i plan to use this tool and will share the post and resource!!

    Liked by 1 person

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