Chronicling America: Using Historic Digital Newspapers for Teaching and Research
Chronicling America is a growing, open-access Internet database jointly supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. With over 5 million text searchable digitized pages of historic U.S. newspapers from America’s states, regions, and territories ranging from the 1830s to 1923, educators and scholars are continually finding new methods for using Chronicling America to learn about our nation’s past.
As a teaching tool, Chronicling America enriches the technological and content knowledge of educators. It engages students in hands-on, authentic, inquiry-driven learning, offering them an opportunity to move beyond the narrow confines of textbooks and interact with the first draft of history. In particular, educators have found that Chronicling America helps students develop digital literacy and a deeper appreciation of local history, while enriching their understanding of cultural and ethnic diversity.
As a tool for academic research, scholars are increasingly relying upon Chronicling America’s wealth of untapped primary sources. Populated by hundreds of local, hard-to-access titles, the database enables researchers to probe regional history in more depth; gauge public sentiment across cities, counties, and states; and even conduct early experimental data and text mining inquires.
In this workshop, participants will receive an introductory, hands-on use of Chronicling America. The instructors representing NEH and EDSITEment, the digital educational outreach of NEH, will work with both history and social studies educators at K-12 and college levels as well as academic researchers on how they might incorporate historic digital newspapers in their professional activities.
After an introduction to Chronicling America and its basic functionality, the workshop instructors will lead participants in a guided exercise to brainstorm innovative teaching and research techniques. Participants will be divided into small groups evenly balanced between K-12 educators and academic historians. They will be tasked with constructing a learning resource that may be adapted for use either in the classroom or for further research inquiry. By the end of the workshop, participants will walk away with the resources they produced.
A discussion session at the close of the workshop will answer any questions about using the site’s functionalities as well as explore methods for incorporating Chronicling America into K-12 and college classrooms. Topics of discussion may include: aligning Chronicling America with Common Core State Standards; refining search strategies for research; identifying methods for incorporating foreign language newspaper content; and exploring how access to regional and local newspapers may challenge dominant historiographical assumptions.
In focus group studies, the presenters have found that Chronicling America is underutilized by educators as a classroom resource and by researchers for scholarship. This hands-on workshop will be an opportunity for both sides to collaborate on developing new uses of the site and sharing in the excitement of historical discovery.
Note: Participants are strongly encouraged to bring their own laptops or tablets. Prior familiarity with Chronicling America is recommended but not necessary