Annual Meeting Roundup: “Teaching Contested History: Digital Archives and Digital Maps” Workshop Preview

This session takes place on Thursday, April 12 at the 2018 OAH Annual Meeting in Sacramento and is endorsed by the OAH Committee on National Park Service Collaboration.
Twitter: #AM2454

Chair: Tess Bundy, Merrimack College
Commentator: Tess Bundy, Merrimack College

• Patricia Reeve, Chair, History Department, Suffolk University, Boston
• Giordana Mecagni, Northeastern University-- Archives and Special Collections
• Julia Howington, Suffolk University
• Josue Sakata, Boston Public Schools
• Amy Lewis, St. Norbert College

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Why and how should we teach contested history to K-16 students, including Boston’s violent and divisive experience of public school desegregation (1974-1988)? This question animates the work of archivists Julia Howington (Suffolk University) and Giordana Mecagni (Northeastern University), historian Pat Reeve (Suffolk University), and Josue Sakata, Assistant Director of History and Social Studies at Boston Public Schools. We came together in 2016 to reflect on our individual and joint efforts to digitize busing sources and incorporate them in inquiry-based curriculum. The resulting learning modules emphasize student acquisition of the critical stance needed to think historically, to interpret and evaluate data, and to participate meaningfully in civic debates. Related assignments also encourage students to consider how authority is constructed in public policymaking and by archives. These are organized by human decisions, which shape, in turn, historical interpretation. We presented our preliminary findings in April 2016 at the annual meeting of the New England Archivists, and we look forward to reflecting further on our projects at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the OAH.

Workshop attendees will discuss the benefits for students of investigating contested history, the pedagogies that enable them to analyze and juxtapose sources, and the inter-institutional collaborations that support this work by bringing together archivists, activists, and educators. We hope to inspire audience members to identify, digitize, and teach sources pertinent to historically significant controversies in their own communities. To that end, we will provide attendees with a blueprint for creating inter-archival collaborations on any topic using available digital tools and services. Lauren “Tess” Bundy, historian (Merrimack College) and workshop commentator, will elaborate on the presentation by discussing new scholarship on school desegregation, including her own work, and the importance for students of thinking critically about historical controversies.

To learn more about the changing historiography of the Boston public school desegregation, begin by reading the pioneering account by J. Anthony Lukas, Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families (1985). Recent scholarship is also available in the March 2017 issue of the Journal of Urban History (Volume 43, Issue 2).

Patricia A. Reeve is Chair and Associate Professor of History at Suffolk University. Her research and teaching focuses on the history of masculinities, work and workers, and medicine in the nineteenth-century U.S. She also researches the teaching and assessment of information literacy at the college level. Additionally, Pat designs and delivers professional development educational programs for K-12 social studies/history teachers. Recent publications include The ‘Bone and Sinew of the Nation’: Antebellum Workingmen on Health and Sovereignty, in Light, Brookes and Mitchinson (eds.), Bodily Subjects: Essays on Gender and Health, 1800 – 2000. McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015, 25-52.

Posted: March 13, 2018
Tagged: Conference, Previews, Teaching, Digital Humanities