Historic Newspapers in the classroom…

August 13, 2012 by  
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We received the following note from one of our collector friends and thought our readers might enjoy his note:

Dear Tim Hughes and Rare Newspapers:

Sir, over the years, I have purchased many newspapers from you on eBay.  They have included topics such as: 1795 Boston newspaper with articles about Geo Washington and Sam Adams; Civil War battle of Lexington, MO;  Lincoln funeral in Philadelphia; Wm Jennings Bryan nominated for President in 1908; Sinking of the USS Maine; Wm McKinley assassination; Wilson’s 14 Points; and others.  I’ve also got papers from WWII collected by my Grandma (Grandpa was overseas with Patton’s Third Army) as well as others that I’ve found at rummage sales.  I also collect autographs (I have Wm Jennings Bryan, Rob’t Todd Lincoln, Lucretia Garfield, Paul Tibbets, Walter Mondale, and Mike Dukakis…if you find any autographs, please contact me!) and display them.
I thought you might be interested in how I display them in my class room.  Let me know if you wish to use any of these photos for marketing purposes.  Thanks for being such a tremendous resource to an American History enthusiast…who has the privilege to teach US History to 11th Graders!  Your papers are part of nearly every lesson, every single day.
David George
Lafayette High School
St. Joseph, MO
In my classroom, history is not the study of the past. I abhor the use of bland textbooks
and rote memorization of facts. Rather, I teach that history is the interpretation of the present as viewed through a prism of past human experiences. I encourage my students to realize that “historical figures” were once living breathing human beings. They may be gone, but the life lessons that they left behind can still empower us to improve our lives and to better understand our world. I believe that “hand’s on learning” provides students with the most ownership of their knowledge. For this reason, my classroom is a museum filled with dozens of historical artifacts and framed newspapers. For example, when studying the Lincoln assassination, I allow students to hold a tear-stained Philadelphia Inquirer from April 1865. My students have even had the opportunity to re-­‐enact the 2000 Florida Presidential election on an actual Dade County voting machine. As a practitioner of Problem Based Learning, I believe giving students access to actual historical documents and relics makes the lesson a truly authentic learning experience. I want my students to realize that history is a never-­‐ending story of human triumphs and tragedies. It is a story to which they are contributing. That is a powerful lesson.

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2 Responses to “Historic Newspapers in the classroom…”

  1. Pete Tamburro on August 15th, 2012 12:53 pm

    Good for you! I work with original newsppaers in my US History classes as well. I give each student an actual newspaper from the late 1700s to late 1800s, depending on our unit and ask them to make inferences about the times, the city and people where it was published and the political leanings of the paper and anything else that comes to mind (the size, the printing, the small type, etc.). The greatest fascination always seems to be the advertisements. Some students have even found the subscriber (name written on the margins of the paper) doing on line research. They think that is really cool! They also learn how to handle such a paper as they take it home and put it in a safe environment and properly handle it. Their papers on the specific issue are always interesting, and a year or two later, they say that was the most interesting assignment as they actually got to touch history.

  2. Debbie Thor on August 20th, 2012 11:42 am

    I just love this note you received from an educator. I truly believe that the very best way to reach our students is to somehow make it relevant to them.. As your previous post indicated, the kids have to see that these are real people and real events in American history. And no better way to do this is through ephemera such as old newspapers and magazines. The other benefit I have found is that using it in the classroom helps the students to understand that it is pretty contemporary stuff. Most of the time the kids think the Civil War and the Industrial Revolution is “ancient history.” Not so at all. But without someway to put it in context, it does seem ancient to them.
    As a follow-up to the last post, I live in South Florida and actually have an old voting machine from the controversial 2000 election. I am going to send it to my daughter who teachs Social Studies to seventh graders in South Carolina. It will be a great way to introduce the concept of “hanging chads” It should be great fun.

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