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Using Digital Archives
as Classroom Resources
Digital archives are an
important means of preserving historical and
cultural materials for
educational and scholarly use. These
online repositories generally consist
of large collections of raw, uncon-textualized audio, visual, and text
materials stored in various digital
formats. Art teachers can use the
materials available, especially digitized images, to engage students in
critical analysis and inquiry-based
activities that provoke a range of
imaginative and well-reasoned
responses. Students can download
text, images, videos, and animations
for their classroom research projects
and multimedia presentations.
The American Memory Project from
the U.S. Library of Congress offers a
wealth of primary source materials
relating to the history and culture of
the United States. The site includes
more than seven million digitized
items from more than one hundred
historical collections covering a
broad range of subjects and themes.
The Learning Page contains lesson
plans plus tips on how to use the
collections in the classroom.
Archives of American Art
The Archives of American Art in
Washington, DC, houses the largest collection of documents on the
history of the visual arts in the
United States. Although their Web
site covers only a small portion of
the actual collection, it is a great
place to explore and learn about
the history of American art. The
types of materials you can find here
include digital reproductions of art-ists' letters and diaries, sketches and
26 SchoolArts November 2006
sketchbooks, photographs, exhibition catalogs, artist scrapbooks, and
transcripts of artist interviews.
Cushman Photograph Collection
Sponsored by the Indiana Digital Library Program, this archive
includes over 14,000 color images
of everyday life in the middle of the
twentieth century, taken by photographer Charles Weever Cushman.
Cushman’s images document a wide
range of American and international
subjects, from city storefronts and
industrial landscapes to candid portraits and botanical studies.
This participatory Web site explores
the relationship between family
photographs and memory. Visitors can easily search the growing
database of more than 2,500 family
snapshots, create a photo essay, read
essays written by others, and submit
their own family photos or essays
for possible exhibition on the site.
Great Buildings Online
This site offers instant access to
the world of architecture, past and
present. It includes over 800 images
of buildings around the world, biog-raphies on hundreds of architects,
online 3-D models of buildings,
photographic images, architectural
drawings, and more.
National Archives Exhibit Hall
The National Archives in Washington DC, presents a number of online
exhibits on their Web site that cover
a variety of historical subjects. A
few of the exhibits that might inter-
est art teachers and students are
“Powers of Persuasion—Posters
from World War II,” “A New Deal
for the Arts,” which includes artwork and photographs highlighting
Depression-era arts projects, and
“Picturing the Century, ” which
features twentieth-century photographs and photographers.
NY Public Library Digital Gallery
This award-winning site provides
access to over 450,000 digitized
images covering a broad range of
primary source and printed materials such as illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage
posters, rare photographs, ephemera,
and more. You can use the keyword
and advanced search option to find
specific items, or browse the collections using the topical directory.
September 11 Digital Archive
The September 11 Digital Archive
contains more than 135,000 items
in a variety of media formats,
enabling visitors to examine a wide
spectrum of opinions and perspectives regarding the events of 9/11.
Warning: Some of the images and
content on this site may not be suitable for young viewers.
Craig Roland is an associate professor of
Art Education in the School of Art and
Art History at the University of Florida
in Gainesville, Florida. He is the author
of The Art Teacher’s Guide to the Internet
(Davis Publications, 2005). rolandc@ufl.