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Communication with the spiritual in ancient to modern art

This collection will examine examples of art as a form of communication between the human and spiritual worlds. These forms of communication may include examples of direct communication — in which an individual or group uses art to speak to and influence the spiritual world — as well as examples that serve to document practices, beliefs, and the place of spiritual practices in society at large.

The form and focus of these communications expressed through art can help to explain the values of particular cultures or individuals, or may serve to question or enforce certain cultural beliefs. This type of art may be the expression of the needs of a social group or culture, such as prehistoric cave paintings that might have functioned in rituals to ensure successful hunts or plentiful game. It may serve to enforce a political agenda such as the Law Code of Hammurabi. Or it may express an individual's personal interpretation and experience of spirituality such as the illustrated poetry of William Blake. However, form does not always imply the expected function: the 19th century English painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti sometimes drew on religious subjects or themes and much of his work has a mysterious and mystical atmosphere. Yet Rossetti, describing his spiritual beliefs, called himself an “art Catholic,” implying that if he engaged in a spiritual dialog through his art, it was with art itself (Faxon, 1989).

This collection will look at examples from the prehistoric era through the early 20th century. These examples help to contextualize the inner lives of individuals, and the collective inner life of the cultures, their environments, wants, needs, and values, to foster a greater appreciation of and respect for these peoples and cultures.

Although there is only limited firm evidence of the purpose of cave art found at sites such as Lascaux, Chauvet, and Les Trois-Frères, scholars generally agree that it served some religious purpose. Various theories have been proposed to provide more specific explanations. Cave art, particularly Paleolithic cave art, depicts almost exclusively animals. Hunting was crucial to the survival of early humans, and it is possible that the images were created as part of hunting rituals. Images of animals superimposed over each other many have represented fertility rituals aimed at increasing the amount of game animals. Some images appear to have been deliberately scratched or gouged with spearheads — in some cases blood was painted flowing from these wounds — suggesting that the images may have been intended as a type of sympathetic magic giving hunters power over and protection from large and dangerous animals (Benton & DiYanni, 2012).

Other images are less easy to explain and have given rise to controversial theories such as the bird-faced human figure in the Lascaux Shaft Scene, that combine elements of humans with other animals in a single figure. The Shaft Scene appears to describe a narrative although the exact meaning is not completely clear. A wounded bison stands ready to charge; the animals intestines appear to be pouring out of its abdomen and a spear is shown near its hindquarters. In front of the bison is a stick figure human with a bird's face. The human figure appears to have fallen or been knocked over. Just below this odd figure is a line topped by a bird, perhaps an object belonging to the bird-faced man. This figure and others that combine humans and other animals into one figure such as The Sorcerer in Les Trois-Freres may document early humans' mythology, and could suggest the origins of certain beliefs and practices (Curtis, 2006).

The meaning of the Law Code of Hammurabi is less ambiguous — the spiritual and the legal/political aspects of the culture are united. The stele dates to approximately 1760 BCE and is divided into two sections. The lower section, which takes up the majority of the stele, consists of the code of laws in effect at the time. The relief at the top depicts the Babylonian king Hammurabi receiving the laws from the god Shamash. The implication is clear: the law itself is a religious document and the social rules it describes are the will of the gods — and Hammurabi whose authority is bolstered by the approval of the gods (Benton & DiYanni, 2012).

The spiritual is not always a numinous experience in a cave. Some early laws and social codes were framed as divine communications that enforce social norms and rules — even now, witnesses in courts are generally sworn in by placing their hand on a Bible. Communication with the spiritual in examples such as the Law Code of Hammurabi is aimed at establishing and enforcing order and lending it a weight of legitimacy. It is as critical for the members of an urban culture, such as Babylon, to abide by rules to maintain peace with their neighbors as it was for the Paleolithic peoples to ensure successful hunts. And, kings such as Hammurabi believed it was critical to protect their power. By aligning themselves with gods, they could borrow some of the gods' power in the minds of the people and make rebellion or betrayal a kind of sacrilege. Hammurabi, in fact, was declared a god in his own lifetime (Van De Mieroop, 2005).

Music may also function as a form of communication between gods and humans. In pharaonic Egypt, religious festivals appear to have prominently involved music and dance. Music may have been used in religious rituals to communicate with the gods, invoke deities, or as a medium to transmit offerings. Some instruments were associated with specific deities: the sistrum with Hathor and Isis and the tambourine with Bes. Sistrums may have been played during rituals associated with Hathor to invoke her — and to placate her. Although images of deities playing musical instruments are relatively rare in Egyptian art, Bes is frequently depicted dancing and playing a tambourine. Unlike the other gods, Bes used music to communicate with humans. Bes was associated with the home and family — the front rooms of Egyptian homes appear to have contained shrines to Bes — and he remained a popular deity among the people throughout Egypt's history. Bes was believed to protect people, particularly women in childbirth, by playing music to frighten away evil spirits. Amulets of Bes dancing and playing a tambourine appear to have been a common type of protective amulet worn around the neck. It is worth noting that depictions of Bes differ markedly from depictions of most other Egyptian deities: he is represented in lively motion. In contrast to the image of Egyptian religion based primarily on royal tombs and, therefore, focused on death and the elite members of society, Bes was closely tied to life and the lives of common people (Simmance, n.d.).

Composed by the poet Valmiki in India the fifth century BCE, the Rāmāyana relates the deeds and adventures of Rama, an avatar of Vishnu. According to J. L. Brockington, in Indian tradition the Rāmāyana is designated the ādikāvya, which may be translated as “the first poetic work,” and is regularly referred to as being sung as opposed to spoken in contrast to the Mahābhārata. In one version of the framework story introducing the Rāmāyana, Rama is described as the perfect human being. His behavior is therefore worth emulating, and it is likely that as early as the first millennium BCE that was in a sense being done literally through plays and dances reenacting the story (Brockington, 1998). In that sense, the Rāmāyana represents a complex, evolving dialog, a lived experience of both artistic and spiritual expression.

Euripides' tragic drama The Bacchae is another example of theater acting as a complex dialog between the human and the spiritual worlds. The plot of The Bacchae revolves around the arrival of the god Dionysos in the city of Thebes where his ecstatic worship is opposed by Pentheus, the king of Thebes. As Segal writes, the play is morally ambiguous and may have been designed to implicate the audience in the action. Although Dionysos is a disturbance to Thebes, Pentheus' response is heavy-handed and unsympathetic. However, as the drama unfolds, the audience that may have been rooting for Dionysos is confronted with a climax that sees the god orchestra Pentheus' gruesome death. It is important to note that Dionysos was a well-established and liked god in Athens and that Classical Greek drama was written to be performed during annual festivals in Dionysos' honor. As Vellacott writes, during the festival a statue of Dionysos was brought from a shrine to the amphitheater to watch the plays. As Segal notes, it is unlikely that the play is meant to be critical of Dionysos (his actual worship was much more restrained than depicted in the play or the myths it was based on) but its presentation, at a fundamentally religious festival with the god literally in the audience, could not but have sparked another dialog within the audience, a reflection on their relationship to the god and the sometimes overwhelming forces he represents.

The Temple of Isis at Pompeii declares both the strength of her worshipers' belief and the endurance of her cult in the face of repeated official sanctions. The temple was damaged in an earthquake in 62 AD but was rebuilt by the time of the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD; in fact, it was the only civic building in that area of Pompeii that had been completely rebuilt (Hackworth, 2006). The apparent preference for a foreign goddess in a Roman city is all the more significant in light of imperial persecutions and prohibitions against her worship dating back to Augustus and coming to a head in 19 CE when Emperor Tiberius exiled thousands of freedmen who were adherents of the religion (Heyob, 1975). However, the cult of Isis continued to flourish. By the time of Pompeii's destruction, her worship appears to have included individuals from all classes of society, from members of the imperial family and municipal officials to freedmen and slaves (Takacs, 1995). The remains of the temple can still be seen on the original site and at the nearby Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli. Although Egyptian decoration was incorporated in the design of the temple and cult objects, the plan of the building and the style of the frescoes was Roman (Moorman, 2011). The navigium Isidis fresco appears to show a distinctly Egyptian scene, Isis resurrecting her husband-brother Osiris, but in a purely Roman style. The Pompeiian worshipers of Isis were part of Roman culture but may have been seeking an opportunity to engage in personally meaningful spiritual communication outside of the state-sectioned venues and deified emperors (Hackworth, 2006).

Early Buddhist art avoided direct representations of the Buddha. The first iconic representations of the Buddha were likely not created until approximately the 2nd century CE in the area of Gandhara, in modern-day Pakistan, under the influence of the Kushan emperors. After their conversion to Buddhism, the Kushan produced distinctive images of the Buddha that drew on Greco-Roman traditions while creating an iconographically unique image that was clearly identifiable as the Buddha (Benton & DiYanni, 2012).

Many of these early sculptures of the Buddha depict a serene, sublime figure, perfectly proportioned and untouched by time or the rigors of his life. However, a small group of statues presents a radically different image of the Buddha. One of these statues, Fasting Buddha, created between the 2nd and 4th centuries CE, depicts the physical effects of the Buddha's forty-five days of fasting and meditation before achieving enlightenment. In an interview with Hyperallergic in 2016 when Fasting Buddha was seen publicly at an Auctionata sale, Dr. Arne Sildatke, Auctionata's head of Asian art, explained that although the Fasting Buddha and similar images can be compared to depictions of the crucified Jesus Christ, the Buddhas are not images of death and resurrection. Instead, they are meant to communicate to followers Buddhism the concepts of self-empowerment and the overcoming of suffering, according to Sildatke. Despite the figure's protruding bones, sunken stomach, and hollow face, the image expresses the strength of the Buddha's will (Voon, 2016).

The Ajanta caves in Maharashta state, India, contain some of the finest examples of Indian Buddhist art and represent several centuries of complex artistic spiritual expression. The caves were created as a monastery and decorated in the Gupta style of sculpture and painting. The Gupta style moved away from the Greco-Roman influence and embraced a more fully Indian style in which characteristics of physical beauty associated with Indian art are adapted to symbolize spiritual beauty (Benton & DiYanni, 2012).

The monks' work on the caves was likely supported during its later phase by wealthy patrons, including the 5th century CE Emperor Harisena and his courtiers. These patrons sponsored the construction and ornamentation of specific caves to honor the Buddha and earn religious merit, as well as worldly praise, for themselves. According to Spink, Cave 1, created in the late 5th century CE, was sponsored by Harisena. Cave 1 contains some of the most sumptuous and well-preserved murals in Ajanta. It is likely that these images, including the Bodhisattva Padmapani, are so well-preserved because Cave 1 was never used for worship. Spink theorizes that Cave 1 was not used because Harisena died suddenly before the cave could be dedicated. An undedicated cave could not be used for worship; therefore, if the cave was indeed left undedicated, Harisena would not have achieved the religious merit he desired (Spink, 2008). In that case, Harisena's attempt to communicate with the spiritual, to have his faith validated, and his attempt to communicate his spiritual virtue to the human world were both left unfulfilled.

Rich ornament and stylization was also used to signify spirituality in European Christian manuscript paintings. As Christianity spread through Europe, representations were adapted to the local Celto-Germanic styles, which bore more in common with the luxurious, symbolic, and stylized Byzantine art than the naturalistic Greco-Roman tradition. The Book of Kells is an illuminated gospel created c. 800 CE by Irish monks. A figure of St. John on one folio is an exercise in elaborate stylization, a purely two-dimensional figure made up of patterns of decorative lines, emphasizing the image's spiritual rather than physical reality (Benton & DiYanni, 2012).

An illuminated gospel such as the Book of Kells was not merely a book — as the chalice used in Mass is not merely a cup — it was created as a sacred object (Calkins, 1983). Like the images in Chauvet cave or the ceremonial sistra used in Egyptian religious ceremonies, it formed part of the necessary accouterments of communication with the spiritual. And, therefore, its form and image took precedence over its physical practicality (Calkins, 1983). In that light, the entire object itself, not only individual folios, can be seen as a translation of spiritual experiences and a vehicle for spiritual communion.

Liturgical music has been a key part of Christian ritual since the earliest days of the religion. Most early Christian music was woven into the services and often consisted of chants based exclusively on scripture. Over time, the scope of music in Christianity grew and original pieces were composed. One notable composer in the Early Middle Ages was Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179). Beginning in early childhood, Hildegard experienced intense visions. She entered a community of nuns when she was eight and became a poet, composer, and playwright (Benton & DiYanni, 2012).

Hildegard also wrote several books detailing her mystical visions and theological instructions derived from them. One of these, Scivias, contained sections that Hildegard later adapted to the Ordo Virtutum, a sacred music drama (King-Lenzmeier, 2001). The plot revolves around the struggle between the devil and the Virtues for a human soul. The Ordo was not written to be performed as part of the Mass or liturgy and does not depict biblical events: the allegorical story is adapted directly from her personal visionary experiences (Potter, 1986). When performing the Ordo, the nuns were embodying and participating in Hildegard's visions by bringing these invisible spiritual experiences into the human world (Davidson, 1992).

The Unicorn Tapestries were made in Brussels c. 1500 and depict the hunt, capture, and death of a unicorn. The tapestries may have been made as a wedding gift and may have been intended to communicate a multilayered message that combined romance and fertility with Christian doctrine (Benton & DiYanni, 2012). The chivalric tradition of courtly love had introduced the idea that romantic love was a symbol of God's love: Marie de France's Eliduc employs this symbolism to suggest that when two individuals loved each other completely they could leave each other for God, separating to live in different religious communities (Potkay, 1994). In The Unicorn Tapestries, Margaret B. Freedman explores the complex interweaving of secular and religious messages encoded in the tapestries, including references that syncretize polytheistic deities into Christian mythology. For example, the fountain in the tapestries may be a symbol of the Virgin Mary, who was compared to a fountain in many medieval hymns, as well as Venus and Cupid, who were frequently depicted holding court in gardens dominated by a fountain. The highly detailed flora in several of the tapestries also simultaneously references Christ and Venus. In Freedman's analysis, the tapestries can be understood as symbolizing and communicating the doctrines and values of the overlapping Christian god of heaven and the god of love, a concept that was well-established by the late medieval period. In the context of the tapestries as a wedding gift, this dual meaning is perfectly appropriate to express, reminding the newlyweds of their spiritual, personal, and social duties and rewards.

In 15th century Florence, a renewed interest in and availability of Classical Greek and Roman scholarship fueled the development of Neoplatonism, a new school of philosophy that sought to merge the principles espoused by the Classical Greek philosopher Plato and the Roman philosopher Plotinus with Christian spirituality. Platonism and Christianity are dualistic and perceive a separation between the physical and the spiritual that humans should strive to breach. According to Neoplatonist thought, this could be done by recognizing the spark of the divine — the work of God — in beautiful things in the physical world; therefore, the love of beauty was a form of worship (Benton & DiYanni, 2012). Florentine Renaissance ideals of beauty were heavily indebted to Greco-Roman traditions that emphasized harmony, rationality, and balance. Therefore, in art and architecture, this could be performed by using geometry as a symbol.

The elaborate geometrical floor pavings in the Medicis' private chapel, the Chapel of the Magi, may be a deliberate geometric code that communicated Neoplatonic ideals and functioned as a type of devotional communication. Cosimo de' Medici, who commissioned the chapel, and several of the artists and architects involved in the design and construction of it were closely involved with the founding of the Accademia Platonica in Florence, an influential group of scientists, artists, and philosophers and which was the cradle of Neoplatonism. The chapel's pavings following distinctive, complex geometrical patterns and ratios tied to Neoplatonic thought. The chapel was constructed for the use of the Medici family and those close to them — it was not intended as a place of worship for the public. Therefore, the Medicis and the artists, scientists, and intellectuals close to them could freely express in a precise geometric language certain beliefs and modes of thinking that were not completely orthodox. In the carefully measured, sumptuous marble pavings of the chapel, they could demonstrate theories of elevated scientific and religious though: divine harmony communicated through mathematics (Bartoli, 1994).


References

Bartoli, M. T. (1994). A Neoplatonic pavement. In The Chapel of the Magi: Benozzo Gozzoli's frescoes in the palazzo Medici-Riccardi Florence (p, 25-28). New York: Thames and Hudson.

Benton, J. R. & DiYanni, R. (2012). Arts and culture: An introduction to the humanities. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Brockington, J. (1998). The Sanskrit epics. Boston: Brill.

Calkins, R. G. (1983). Illuminated books of the Middle Ages. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press.

Curtis, G. B. (2006). The cave painters: Probing the mysteries of the world's first artists. (2006). New York: Knopf.

Davidson, A. E. (1992). Music and performance: Hildegard of Bingen's Ordo Virtutum. In The Ordo Virtutum of Hildegard of Bingen: Critical studies (p. 1-29). Kalamazoo, Michigan: Western Michigan University.

Faxon, A. C. (1989). Dante Gabriel Rossetti. New York: Abbeville Press.

Freeman, Margaret B. (1983). The Unicorn Tapestries. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Hackworth, P., L. (2006). The freedman in Roman art and art history. Oxford: Cambridge University Press.

Heyob, S. K. (1975). The cult of Isis among women in the Graeco-Roman world. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

King-Lenzmeier, A. H. (2001). Hildegard of Bingen: An integrated vision. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press.

Moorman, E., M. (2011). Divine interiors: Mural paintings in Greek and Roman sanctuaries. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam Press.

Potkay, M. B. (1994). "The Limits of Romantic Allegory in Marie de France's Eliduc," Medieval Perspectives, 9 (1), 135-145. http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/55697230/limits-romantic-allegory-marie-de-frances-eliduc

Potter, R. (1986). The “Ordo Virtutum”: Ancestor of the English moralities?. Comparative Drama, 20 (3), 201–210. https://www.jstor.org/stable/41153244

Segal, C. (2001). Introduction. In Euripides, Bakkai (3-32). New York: Oxford University Press.

Simmance, E. (n.d.) Communication through music in ancient Egyptian religion. University of Birmingham. Retrieved 2/4/2019 from https://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/activity/connections/Essays/ESimmance.aspx.

Spink, W. (2008). Ajanta lecture: Korea 2008. WatlerSpink. Retrieved February 22, 2019, from https://www.walterspink.com/ajanta/ajanta-lecture

Takacs, S., A. (1995). Isis and Sarapis in the Roman world. Leiden: E. J. Brill.

Van De Mieroop, M. (2005). King Hammurabi of babylon: A biography. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing.

Vellacott, P. (1959). Introduction. In Aeschylus, The Orestian trilogy (9-40). New York: Penguin.

Voon, C. (2016). The raw expression of a rare, emaciated Buddha. Hyperallergic. Retrieved February 21, 2019, from https://hyperallergic.com/3448...

#AHMC2019

Nicole Votta
14
 

ORIENTATION | Smithsonian Secretary's Youth Advisory Council (SSYAC) Fall 2018 - Spring 2019

<<This information is relevant to the Fall 2018 - Spring 2019 SSYAC Program.>>

SUPER IMPORTANT: When you click into the tiles, be sure to notice in the upper left hand corner if there is a "paper clip" icon. Clicking on the paperclip icon will lead to more information on a side panel. Some of the tiles will be website links or video links. Tiles marked as PDF or DOC are downloadable information. Within a tile, arrows at the bottom of the screen will navigate you between tiles.


Orientation for new members of the Smithsonian Secretary's Youth Advisory Council (SSYAC) for Fall 2018 - Spring 2019

  • About the Smithsonian Secretary's Youth Advisory Council (SSYAC) -- including forms and other important information
  • About Secretary David J. Skorton
  • About Smithsonian's past and present
  • About Smithsonian Affiliate participants
  • About Smithsonian operations, and policy information helpful to SSYAC members. 
  • Meeting Resources (relevant info related to upcoming meetings will be added closer to meeting dates). 

KEYWORDS: teen council, student engagement

Tracie Spinale
32
 

Bracero Program: Step In, Step Out, Step Back

In this activity, students will examine a painting of Mexican guest-workers, known as braceros, involved in the Bracero Program (1942-1964), the largest guest-worker program in US history.  Started as a temporary war measure to address labor demands in agriculture and railroads, the program allowed Mexican nationals to take temporary agricultural work in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and 24 other states. By the time the program ended in 1964, over 4.6 million work contracts were awarded. 

Using a Project Zero Global Thinking Routine - "Step In - Step Out - Step Back" - students will examine the perspectives of those depicted in the painting, consider what it means to take the perspectives of others, and explore avenues and methods to learn more about Braceros. Resources for learning more about the Bracero program are located at the end of the collection and include: Bittersweet Harvest, a digital exhibition about the Bracero Program; the Bracero History Archive, which includes oral histories, objects, and more; and a Learning Lab collection of photographs documenting the Bracero Program.

Keywords: laborer, immigration, work, migration, migrant workers, agriculture, reform, politics, government, photojournalism, activity, inquiry strategy, global competency, global competence, latino, chicano, 1940s, 40s, 1950s, 50s, 1960s, 60s

Tess Porter
6
 

The Red Scare

This collection features resources (photographs, portraits, documents, articles, and videos) about the Second Red Scare (1947-57), a period of anti-communist fear, also known as "McCarthyism," that spread through American life at the beginning of the Cold War.  Resources include key people, such as Joseph McCarthy, Edward R. Murrow, Alger Hiss, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, letters documenting a university's requirement that faculty affirm they were not members of the Communist Party, individuals targeted by House Un-American Activities Committee, and more.

This collection provides a launching point for further research and should not be considered comprehensive.

Keywords: communism, anti-communism, anticommunism, HUAC, HCUA, hollywood blacklist, ray cohn 

Tess Porter
45
 

The Face of Feminism

Who gets to be the face of a movement?

Created for the National Portrait Gallery Learning to Look Summer Institute, 2016 #NPGteach #BecauseOfHerStory

Rachel Slezak
4
 

The Edward H. & Rosamund B. Spicer Photos of Yaqui Culture

The Rosamund B. and Edward H. Spicer of photographs of Yoeme (Yaqui) documents lifeways, culture, ceremonies, and families from the mid-1930s to the early 1940s in the villages of Old Pascua, Arizona and Potom, Sonora, Mexico.

#LatinoHAC

Arizona State Museum
21
 

Arizona State Museum Donald Cordry Photographs of Mexican Indian Costumes

The Donald B. Cordry collection contains photographs of Mexican mask-makers and textile weavers. Many of these photographs appear in his two books Mexican Masks and Mexican Indian Costumes.

#LatinoHAC

Arizona State Museum
55
 

What Would Frida Wear?

This collection provides students the opportunity to dress artist Frida Kahlo in traditional Mexican garb that she favored, the huipil and the quechquemitl.

Frida Kahlo was born in Coyoacan on July 6, 1907.  Thoughout her life Frida was a fierce nationalist and a vocal socialist. As a reflection of her beliefs, Frida often wore the indigenous clothing of Mexico.  This can be seen both in photographs of her and in her paintings.  Frida completed 143 paintings during her lifetime, 55 of which are self-portraits.  Many of these self-portaits are among her most famous works.  

Most of the costumes Frida wears were hand-woven, as well as hand embroidered and stitched.  The colors and many of the symbols used in her work are clearly influenced by Mexican tradition.

She died in 1954.

#LatinoHAC

Arizona State Museum
14
 

Image Analysis: "Girl at Gee's Bend, Alabama" by Arthur Rothstein

Developing an inquiry-based strategy to support students can allow them to investigate objects and images as historians do. In this example, students try to reveal the story behind the image. They raise questions for their own further research. Because the image has only a title, the photographer's name, the "sitter"'s name, the place and the date, students have to rely on their own analysis of evidence in the image, rather than someone else's interpretation. When they read the expert's analysis, they will have already considered many of the elements that the expert highlights and can compare their interpretations.

"Girl at Gee's Bend, Alabama" is a provocative photograph that can be used in discussions ranging from history of the South during the Great Depression, to social justice.

Ashley Naranjo
3
 

"Let Women Fly!": Female Aviators and Astronauts

Did you know that astronaut Mae Jemison carried a picture of aviator Bessie Coleman in her uniform pocket? Or that astronaut Sally Ride was a major supporter of vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro? Maybe you knew that Jane Briggs Hart was Michigan's first female helicopter pilot and flew her husband, the late Senator Hart, to his political campaign stops as well as being vocal and liberal political activist? Find out about these inspirational women and others in this collection. This topical collection is a great starting point for research about female aviators and astronauts, and includes articles, images, artifacts, and video. Some guiding questions to consider might be:
-Why do you think it was so challenging for female pilots to become accepted? Compare the inclusion of women in aviation to other industries and fields.
-What role did the military play in the growth in the number of female aviators?
-What connections can you find between various female pilots and astronauts?
-Is being the "first" of something a political act? How do many female aviation leaders use their public voice?

#BecauseOfHerStory

Kate Harris
48
 

National History Day: "Flygirls"

This collection brings together EDSITEment and Smithsonian resources to support the initial research into a project for National History Day.  While originally created for the 2017 theme, "Taking a Stand in History," resources found in this collection are useful for researching other National History Day themes.

These resources - photographs, objects, videos, articles, and more - focus on the lives and contributions of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), or "Flygirls" of WWII. Highlighted in this collection are also two African-American aviators, Willa Brown and Janet Bragg; discriminatory practices disallowed African-Americans from joining the WASPs during WWII. This collection is part of the larger collection, Taking a Stand: Women's Rights. When navigating this collection, please see the standalone text tile for a summary of collection resources.

By no means is this collection comprehensive; instead, it provides a launching point for further research.

This collection was created in collaboration with EDSITEment, a website for K-12 educators from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tags: woman; women; female; feminism; feminist; pilot; aviator; army; world war 2; ww2; world war II; national endowment for the humanities; #nhd; #NHD2017, #BecauseOfHerStory

Tess Porter
29
 

National History Day: Suffrage Movement, 1848-1919

This collection brings together EDSITEment and Smithsonian resources to support the initial research into a project for National History Day.  While originally created for the 2017 theme, "Taking a Stand in History," resources found in this collection are useful for researching other National History Day themes.

This collection focuses on milestones and important figures in the American Suffrage Movement, beginning at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 and leading up to the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919. Resources include lesson plans, photographs, videos, objects, articles, and more. This collection is part of the larger collection, Taking a Stand: Women's Rights. When navigating this collection, please see the standalone text tiles for summaries of section resources.

By no means is this collection comprehensive; instead, it provides a launching point for further research.

This collection was created in collaboration with EDSITEment, a website for K-12 educators from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tags: women's rights; woman; female; feminism; feminist; suffrage; suffragette; protest; reform; civil rights; equal rights; susan b anthony; elizabeth cady stanton; national endowment for the humanities; #nhd; #NHD2017, #BecauseOfHerStory

Tess Porter
51
 

National History Day: Women's Rights

This collection brings together EDSITEment and Smithsonian resources to support the initial research into a project for National History Day.  While originally created for the 2017 theme, "Taking a Stand in History," resources found in this collection are useful for researching other National History Day themes.

These resources - portraits, objects, blog posts, websites, articles, and more - pinpoint milestones in the Women's Rights Movement in the United States. Because of the depth of resources on this topic, this collection has been split into sections: Suffrage Movement, 1848-1919; World War II "Flygirls"; Eleanor Roosevelt; and other leaders in the fight for Women's Rights. Each section is introduced with a standalone text tile that summarizes the resources held within the section. The first two section summaries are followed by a link out to a sub-collection of resources, containing additional Smithsonian resources on these topics.

By no means is this collection comprehensive; instead, it provides a launching point for further research.

This collection was created in collaboration with EDSITEment, a website for K-12 educators from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Tags: suffragists; suffragette; pilot; female; woman; feminist; feminism; national endowment for the humanities; #nhd; #NHD2017, #BecauseOfHerStory

Tess Porter
51
 

Women in Baseball and the Post Office

Issues of gender inequality have had profound effects on all aspects of American society and its many institutions. In conjunction with the National Postal Museum’s upcoming exhibition Baseball: America’s Home Run, this collection will assist teachers in examining this issue with their students through two important institutions of the 20th Century: Major League Baseball and the United States Postal Service. The collection explores this essential question: How was the changing status of women in American society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries represented in professional baseball and the United States Postal Service? In small groups, students will discuss this underlying question through the variety of resources in this collection, examining the historical access women have had to these institutions, their divergent experiences compared to their male counterparts, and how women have historically been depicted on USPS stamps. Some supporting questions to scaffold inquiry can be found in the “Notes to Other Users” section.

#BecauseOfHerStory

National Postal Museum
31
 

Nicholasa Mohr and New York's Puerto Rican Migration

This topical collection explores Antonio Martorell's portrait of prolific Latina author Nicholasa Mohr, and is displayed with a range of resources that offer a view, through art, portraiture, and literature, into the lives of Puerto Rican migrants to the continental United States in the early to mid-twentieth century. The images and resources can be used as discussion or writing prompts in a variety of courses, including history, culture, literature, and language.

The portrait itself,  one of a series of 45-minute portraits that Martorell made of his artist friends, captures Mohr's spirit, much in the way that Mohr's writing brings to life the people, sounds, and activities of New York's Puerto Rican migrants in the twentieth century. The collection also includes a bilingual video with National Portrait Gallery curator Taína Caragol, as well as the first page and a review of "Nilda," one of Mohr's most well-known novels, about a Puerto Rican girl coming of age in New York during World War II. This book was selected as an "Outstanding Book of the Year" by the New York Times, and a "Best Book of 1973" by the American Library Association.

The collection also includes images and a bilingual podcast by Martorell speaking about a different work in the Smithsonian American Art Museum collection, "La Playa Negra" ("Tar Beach"), which is the term used by Puerto Rican migrants for the rooftops of tenement buildings. As the label describes, in this painting, "a fashionable woman wears a fur-collared coat and sits in front of a New York City skyline. Her hardworking double on the left sits behind a sewing machine. In his "Playa Negra" ("Tar Beach") series, Martorell juxtaposed migrants' prosperous self-image with a glimpse of their tiring labor."

The collection also includes a series of photographs from the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, by Hiram Maristany, a resident and photographer of the El Barrio neighborhood. Maristany grew up with eight siblings on East 111th Street.

#LatinoHAC #BecauseOfHerStory


Philippa Rappoport
22
 

Dolores Huerta: Images, Videos, and "One Life" Exhibition

This topical collection explores the contributions to American history and society of Civil Rights activist Dolores Huerta, the "co-architect" with Cesar Chavez of the American Farm Workers Movement. The images and resources can be used as discussion or writing prompts in a variety of courses, including history, culture, language, and literature. Included in this collection are images from the exhibition, "One Life: Dolores Huerta," a bilingual video with National Portrait Gallery curator Taína Caragol, footage of an interview program with Dolores Huerta at the museum, and an NPR interview with Dolores Huerta in January 2017.

#LatinoHAC #BecauseOfHerStory

Philippa Rappoport
19
 

Civil Rights Sculpture: Claim Support Question

Using the Project Zero Visible Thinking routine "Claim Support Question," a routine for clarifying truth claims, students will examine a portrait of Rosa Parks, a prominent civil rights activist whose refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger prompted the 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott. After discussing the portrait with their peers, students will learn more about the arrest this sculpture depicts by reading the original police report, with notes by a Smithsonian curator.

Created for the 2016 National Portrait Gallery Summer Teacher Institute.

Keywords: african-american, black, civil rights movement, female, woman, women, segregation, NAACP, justice, arrest, #BecauseOfHerStory

Tess Porter
2
 

Portrait Analysis: Lili'oukalani

In this activity, students will analyze a portrait of Lili'oukalani (1838-1917), the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii.  Queen Lili'uokalani came to the throne after her brother's death in 1891 and ruled until 1893 when, to avoid bloodshed, she surrendered to a coup led by American business leaders.  Opportunities to learn more include other portraits of Lili'uokalani, including one taken when she was 15, an article about her life and the annexation of Hawaii, and more.

This activity can be used as an entry point into studying Lili'uokalani's life and achievements, Hawaiian annexation, Hawaiian history and culture, and more.  This activity opens with questions from the National Portrait Gallery's "Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators and ends with a Project Zero Think / Puzzle / Explore routine; the full portraiture guide and routine instructions are located at the end of the collection.

This Smithsonian Learning Lab collection received Federal support from the Asian Pacific American Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center.

Keywords: liliuokalani, hawai'i, polynesian, pacific islander

#APA2018 #BecauseOfHerStory

Tess Porter
11
 

Zora Neale Hurston: Author, Anthropologist and Folklore Researcher

This teaching collection includes introductory resources to begin a study of Zora Neale Hurston, as an author, anthropologist and folklore researcher during the Harlem Renaissance.

#BecauseOfHerStory

Ashley Naranjo
11
 

Rachel Carson: Innovator

In what ways was Rachel Carson an innovator? She diligently pursued her goals as a female scientist and author and sparked the environmental movement with her book "Silent Spring." As you look through this collection, consider the characteristics of innovators. What innovative characteristics do you share with her?

For more on the characteristics that make up an innovator, look at the Heinz History Center website. You can even take a quiz and find out what innovator you are most like:

http://www.heinzhistorycenter.org/education/school...

tags: Pittsburgh, science, environment,Silent Spring, Chatham, Maine, Fish and Wildlife Service, #BecauseOfHerStory

Kate Harris
15
 

Social Change in the Archives: ACC-PARC Records

First formed in 1951, the Allegheny County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (ACC-PARC) was established as a grassroots organization comprised of the parents of people with disabilities. The aspect of ACC-PARC’s daily activities most represented in these records are the efforts of the association to investigate the treatment of people with disabilities at residential care facilities in Western Pennsylvania during the 1960s and 1970s.

This Learning Lab collection is designed to highlight the specific steps taken by the parents and members of ACC-PARC as they advocated for change in residential care facilities in this region. Each document illuminates a specific step or tactic used by the parents as they attempted to raise awareness of poor treatment of people with disabilities, stop overcrowding and under-staffing in facilities, and push for legislation to ensure the well-being of residents.

This archival collection and the materials presented in this Learning Lab collection are housed at the Detre Library and Archives at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, PA:

Title: Bob Nelkin Collection of Allegheny County Chapter of the Pennsylvania Association for Retarded Children (ACC-PARC) Records

Dates: 1953-2000

Creator: Nelkin, Bob

Catalog Number: MSS 1002


HeinzHistoryCenterEducation
34
 

Japanese American Internment Experience during World War Two

This collection was created as part of the edx.org course Teaching Historical Inquiry Using Objects. It looks at the Japanese American experience of internment, and begins to answer the supporting question: what was life like for Japanese Americans in internment camps? This information could be used to help answer supporting questions that feed into compelling questions such as: What is more important - freedom or security? Is it justified to place limits on citizenship? Was World War Two a "good war"? 

As a separate note: I would encourage you to look at the Smithsonian's lesson plans for teaching about Japanese American internment, and follow up further with Densho.org, which preserve the oral history and stories of Japanese Americans interned in World War Two. 

If possible, please also note to your students that around 22,000 Japanese Canadians were also interned by their government. 

#TeachingInquiry

Gabrielle Sharp
17
 

Designing a Better Voting Machine: 1880s to Today

Objects are time capsules; they embody values, aspirations, or problems of a particular time and place and mark a stage of technological evolution. This student activity examines voting machines used in U.S. elections over more than a century. Looking closely and understanding the historical objects’ design evolution will inform students’ design of new machine intended to overcome barriers to voting in today's elections. 

The first five images are voting machines from the late 1800s to the early 2000s. Students will explore their parts, purposes, and complexities, then read the Washington Post article "Broken machines, rejected ballots and long lines: voting problems emerge as Americans go to the polls." Finally, students will design (and may prototype) a voting machine.

This collection incorporates two Project Zero Agency by Design routines: Parts, Purposes, Complexities, a routine for looking closely; and Imagine If..., a routine for finding opportunity. Questions in each routine are open-ended and should be used to spark peer discussion in small groups or as a class. For more information on how to use and facilitate each routine, see their resource tiles at the end of the collection, as well as the Agency by Design website.

Keywords: vote, voter, maker, making 

Tess Porter
13
 

SSYAC 2018/2019 Meeting 1 - National Air and Space Museum

The first meeting of the third cohort of the SSYAC (2018-2019) will be held at the National Air and Space Museum on October 24, 2018. The meeting will be out of this world.  We'll begin by playing a "break-out box" game in the Moving Beyond Earth gallery. Can you help Dr. Skorton solve the space history clues to UNLOCK the mysteries of the universe? OR will we be lost in space? Next, we'll meet Dr. Ellen Stofan, Director (and Scientist), National Air and Space Museum (NASM). We'll hear about plans to renovate the museum--and what it takes to be the world's most visited museum. Next, since it's our very first meeting of the new SSYAC year, we'll take a moment to greet friends--both old and new. Secretary Skorton will discuss this year's SSYAC agenda, and answer some of the questions that you posed to him in your applications. Finally, we'll take a group photo. If you have any questions--do not hesitate to reach out to Tracie Spinale, tspinale(AT)si.edu or your Affiliate Coordinator. 

Tracie Spinale
18
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