Prepping for the next cohort: applications due 5/28

Updated 5/18 to note that the application deadline extended to Monday 5/28


Although Nor-easter Riley required that we postpone Friday’s follow-up workshop with Cohort 1, we did manage to connect on the main issues, including finalizing some details for the upcoming NYSCSS conference in Albany, thinking about how best to get the word out about the grant applications for Cohort 2.

We are so fortunate to be working with a wonderful group of teachers now, and we all are looking forward to meeting the next great group!  Would you like to be a part of the project?

Teachers spend a week in the summer workshop sharing and exploring ideas and methods about using family history to teach major themes in world history through open digital archives and open repository. All participants will have an opportunity to present their curricula at conferences and work on publications related to the grant and the workshops.

Teacher participants receive a $1,500.00 stipend for the summer workshop (July 30 – August 3, 2018), as well as compensation ($55.00/hr) for the five follow-up workshops.

This is a great opportunity for teachers!  Cohort 2 Application URL:



Chronozoom update: Introducing Timeline JS

On Feb 21, we got the news that Chronozoom was going to sunset very soon. In a letter to Chronozoom users  we learned that “…ChronoZoom we have come to know will close on March 15th, 2018. Timelines that are published as public will be archived before the server is shutdown. These timelines will be made available as a downloadable dataset for future developers and researchers. Learn more here.”

While Chronozoom is incomparable, we set out to find a substitute for the teacher participants who chose to use the timeline tool.  After a bit of research,  project GA Malcolm Harris and I tested timeline software called TimelineJS .  It appears to be as easy as the tutorial demonstration indicates (no small feat), and since it draws from GoogleSpreadsheets, it fits with our earlier suggested plans to have students organize all of their research information on a document or spreadsheet prior to “pulling it all together” in a project — the display is clean.

At this time, timelines do not re-diplay in WordPress (this official blog) but it does redisplay in LibGuides (the platform where all our resources reside). This may be a really good thing since we could re-display some of the outstanding timelines for each geographical region.

While we will miss Chronozoom, we were fortunate to find another tool that we hope will be of use to teachers, TimelineJS.  Many thanks to fearless Malcolm, who was willing to test the instructions on short turn-around time!


Resource Review: Elephind World newspapers

Elephind World newspapers Guide post by Sanna Cheema (2/28/2018)

Elephind can be a great free resource for students and anyone who wishes to search old newspapers. The purpose of is to make it possible to search all of the world’s digital newspapers from one place and at one time. allows you to simultaneously search across thousands of articles using key words and phrases.

Elephind presently contains 181,585,262 items from 3,566 newspaper titles. You can find a list of libraries that have contributed their archives on the site by clicking on “List of Titles.” Clicking on any library’s name displays the newspapers in that collection. is much like Google, Bing, or other search engines but focuses only on historical, digitized newspapers. By clicking on the search result that interests you, you’ll go directly to the newspaper collection which hosts that story.

Advanced Search allows the user to specify any combination of the following:

  •    Contributing library
  •    Years of publication to be searched
  •    Search of all text or limited to searches only of titles
  •    Number of results to be displayed per page

There is even a “Search Tips” page, which can be useful to teachers when explaining to students how to choose the best keywords, as well as when to use quotation marks and the minus (-) sign in their searches.

Elephind does not search all the newspapers ever published in the U.S. No online newspaper offers anywhere near that amount of information. However, it does contain 3,566 different newspapers in its database, including newspapers from the United States, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore. The oldest newspaper in the online collection is from 29 September 1787 while the newest is from 29 December 2016.

By using Elephind, teachers can encourage their students to seek primary sources through research and connect their studies to events of the past while promoting a deeper understanding of history as a series of human events. Of course, newspapers can also be a great resource of genealogy information. Birth announcements, marriage announcements, court news, and more can be searched within seconds. If, for example, a student’s ancestor was a merchant, they probably can also find his or her advertisements placed in the newspaper.

Resource Review: CRRA News Archive

CRRA News Archive Guide post by Sanna Cheema 2/14/2018

The Catholic Research Resources Alliance (CRRA) was established in 2008 and is a non-profit membership organization collaborating broadly to deliver projects and services in support of its mission to provide enduring global access to Catholic research resources in the Americas. The Catholic News Archive, initiated by the CRRA, aims to provide access to newspapers, in this case to all Catholic newspapers published in North America. CRRA’s mission is to electronically bring together resources in many formats from many collections, and to provide librarians, archivists, researchers, scholars, and the general public an effective and global discovery of Catholic research resources.

Fundraising is ongoing and the archive continues to grow as new content is added, but the site already includes eleven titles, among them: The Catholic Standard and Times (Archdiocese of Philadelphia), the Clarion Herald (Archdiocese of New Orleans), The Monitor (Archdiocese of San Francisco), National Catholic Reporter, the Pittsburgh Catholic, Shepherd of the Valley (St. Louis, Missouri), and The Voice (Archdiocese of Miami), as well as The Catholic World in Pictures and historic news feeds of Catholic News Service. Users may perform full-text keyword searches or may browse the papers by date (currently, 1832-1978) and by title. The CRRA has also compiled links to other Catholic papers available online elsewhere.

Newspapers often provide a missing Catholic dimension to many trends, issues, and questions about American life. They include vital information about positions on anti-communism, abolition, and slavery, women’s suffrage, immigration restriction, American imperial adventures in the Philippines, and the New Deal and labor unions. The bad news is many of these newspapers are difficult to access. The full runs can be scattered across different institutions, holdings can remain hidden, and if they are found they are rarely available digitally. The CRRA is poised to carry out its plan to locate, identify, document, preserve, and digitize these important resources.

The Vatican II era papers could shed significant light on local and national American Catholic responses to the Cold War, to the Vietnam War, to civil rights, etc. While the diocesan papers contain critical information on diocesan and parish activities around these and other issues. These papers also contain coverage of important and understudied national stories; for example, the way in which Catholic sisters both transformed and were transformed by the women’s movement. And of course these papers don’t need to serve as a resource only related to the Catholic experience. Digital access to these papers makes these primary sources readily available to the public, opening up opportunities not only with Catholic history but within American and even global history as a whole.

Here are some quotes I found from the website that demonstrate why educators use the archives to engage their students:

“My students and I frequently use Catholic newspapers to illuminate how Catholicism engages with the broader context in which it exists.”

–Dr. James P. McCartin, Director, Fordham University Center on Religion and Culture


Resource Review: New York Heritage Site

New York Heritage Site Guide Post by Sanna Cheema 2/7/2018

The New York Heritage Digital Collections website provides free, online access to materials of cultural and historical significance in New York State. The site connects digital collections from around the state, contributed by libraries, archives, museums and other cultural institutions, and builds on existing digital repository services administered by seven of the Empire State Library Network members.

In 2017, the website was relaunched with a new look and navigation system. Whereas the old version of the website focused on historical newspapers, the new version features a variety of materials including photographs, postcards, correspondence, maps, yearbooks and more. The potential uses of these materials as primary sources for inquiry are not limited to professional historians, but may be taught to, and used by students, as well. The visual images and documents contain a wealth of information about a variety of peoples, era, and events in New York history which may be used as evidence, for illustration, for comparison and contrast, and for analytical purposes.

Additionally, there is more contextual information available regarding institutions and collections which can be useful to students, teachers, and other researchers. Other useful features of the redesigned NY Heritage website include faceted browsing (filtering by topic, type, county, etc), landing pages for all institutions and collection, simpler interface, and easier navigation, allowing researchers to search across collections from a specific institution or find a specific collection.

Also available is the “Resources for Educators” tab (available from the Home page in the upper navigational menu), which includes lesson plans and teaching activities that support the Common Core State Standards as well as links to other helpful digital resources. The lesson plans cover a range of topics in New York history and utilize interesting and engaging sources, activities, discussion questions, and assessments. Teachers can also spruce up their NYC history lessons with the thousands of historical photos and historical postcards in the various collections.

Here are some links to collections relating to various wars as well as other topics that I think would be of particular interest to 10th grade history teachers & students:

Albany Institute of History and Art Library Digital Images

“This collection contains materials related to the history of the city and county of Albany and the Upper Hudson Valley from the 17th century to the present.”

19th Century Monographs on the History of Western New York

“The collection includes monographs relating to Western New York history: History of Niagara County, N.Y. and History of the City of Buffalo and Erie County, volumes 1 and 2. The books include illustrations of notable buildings, as well as biographical sketches and portraits of prominent residents.”

A History of the Black Community of Syracuse

“The collection includes photographs and documents relating to African Americans in the Syracuse region. The photographs depict black soldiers and local religious leaders, as well as individuals engaged in community life, sports, and social organizations, including involvement with the Dunbar Center. Ephemera from this collection includes clippings from nineteenth century newspapers and journals, as well as a handbill offering a reward for an escaped slave. The materials date from early 19th century to mid-20th century; many are undated.”

American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter;

“The collection includes one issue of American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter, 1843-03-01, volume 2 issue 9, published by the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. The newspaper contains articles on a number of issues relating to the abolition movement.”

1964 Rochester Riot Photographs

“This collection contains black-and-white photographs relating to the Rochester Race Riots of 1964. The images depict various stages of unrest during the riots and the damage in the aftermath. There are aerial views showing the damage to many buildings. There are many images of police on duty during the riots.”

Church Buildings

“This collection consists of images of the churches of Potsdam, New York, which includes Episcopal, Presbyterian, Christian Scientist, Universalist, Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist denominations. Interior photographs of Trinity Episcopal Church are also included, as well as images of a few other Potsdam buildings including St. Lawrence Academy and the Civic Center.”

Civil War Carte de Visite Collection

“This collection contains photographs of New Yorkers who played a role in the Civil War.”

Civil War Letters

“This collection contains letters written by Union Army Civil War soldiers.”

Joseph H. Treyz Collection of Civil War Patriotic Envelopes:

“The Joseph H. Treyz Collection contains 149 patriotic envelopes printed during the Civil War. They represent the Union cause and contain patriotic images such as the Union flag, state seals, soldiers, goddesses, depictions of Northern cities, prominent leaders and military officers, and cartoons and caricatures depicting Southern life. The majority of the envelopes include a slogan or poetry supporting the Union cause.”

Walt Whitman Collection

“The collection consists of black and white photographs of the birthplace of Walt Whitman taken by photographer Benjamin S. Conklin in the middle of the 20th Century. Additionally, there is a manuscript from Walt Whitman featuring a draft of his famous poem, Thick Sprinkled Bunting.”

War Diaries

“This collection contains images of diaries belonging to American men who served in various wars, including the Civil War, World War I, and World War II. These first person accounts offer a bevy of insights into the thoughts, actions and beliefs of the men who served.”

War of 1812

“Photographs, letters, maps, drawings, and documents relating to the War of 1812.”

Camp Upton Postcards

The collection consists of postcards depicting Camp Upton as well as general postcards of the Western Front as seen by the average Dough Boy.

World War I Era Postcard Collection

“This collection is a collection of World War I-era postcards that were a gift to Union College from William Nelson Potter Dailey, a member of the class of 1884. Most of the postcards are of France, but some feature Great Britain, Italy and Monaco.”

World War 2 Fallen Sons

“This collection consists of newspaper articles from 1940s about the men from Middleburgh, NY and the surrounding area who died in World War II.”

I think students learning about immigration into NYC would enjoy a collection on immigrants and Ellis Island. Personally, I would also like to see a collection on prominent women in New York history.

Lastly, here’s a “hidden gem” that might be of interest to students learning about LGBT history:

Resource Review: DPLA Search and Sets

DPLA  Guide Post by Kat Baumgartner (11/16/2017)

The Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) contains over 16 million items from archives, libraries, and museums around the country. This archive may be searched and the results narrowed in order to locate information on the history of various countries and their relationship with the United States. For example, one may search “Colombia” and then narrow the results based on location, subject, type, and date. Type includes text, image, sound, and moving image. If searching for text, the results may also be narrowed by language, so that only documents in English, Spanish, French, German, or other available languages appear.

DPLA has also published primary source guides on various subjects that may be of use to students working on this project. These guides contain a curated collection of items from the collective library, as well as teaching guides for instructors, which include discussion questions, classroom activities, and tools for completing primary source analysis. Some of the new primary source guides that may be of use to students are: Cherokee Removal and the Trail of Tears, Elie Wiesel’s Night and the Holocaust, and the Rise of Italian Fascism and Its Influence on Europe. Other existing source guides that may be of use include: Puerto Rican Migration to the US, Immigration and Americanization (1880-1930), and The Great Migration

Resource: Teaching Central America

Teaching Central America Guide Post by Kat Baumgartner (11/9/2017):

The link for Teaching Central America leads to a history of El Salvador. This history is helpful for students whose family members come from this country, as the article briefly covers the history of the nation from its inception up to the late 20th century. To access the histories of other Central American countries, select the History tab at the top of the page. This brings users to a brief list of links to the histories of El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Honduras. These overviews are very helpful in themselves and they also contain links to other sources to facilitate further research. Most of these histories are centered around political violence and reach into the early 21st century. The article on Nicaragua is solely about United States history with the country rather than an overview of the country as a whole.

Selecting the “Middle/High” link available at the top of the page under the “Lessons” dropdown menu provides users with various lesson plans. While the majority of these are not going to be of much use to students, the lesson plan titled “When We Were Young There Was a War” may prove useful in some ways. The site may be read in either English or Spanish and provides an overview of the civil wars that took place in Guatemala and El Salvador in the 1980s. These wars are looked at through the eyes of children who were affected by it, which may serve to give students further insight into the effects of war and displacement can have on a person.