Found 5,999 Learning Lab Collections
This teacher's guide provides portraits and analysis questions to enrich students' examination of Bessie Smith, the "Empress of the Blues" and one of the most influential blues singers in history. Includes the video "Defining Portraiture: How are portraits both fact and fiction?" and the National Portrait Gallery's "Reading" Portraiture Guide for Educators, both of which provide suggestions and questions for analyzing portraiture. Also includes a video clip of Bessie Smith performing "St. Louis Blues" in 1929 and a post from the National Museum of African American History and Culture discussing her and other LGBTQ African Americans of the Harlem Renaissance.
- What do these portraits have in common? How are they different?
- How are these portraits both fact and fiction?
- How do these portraits reflect how she wanted to be seen, or how others wanted her to be seen? Consider for what purpose these portraits were created.
- Having listened her music, does the portrait capture your image of Bessie Smith? Why, or why not?
- If you were creating your own portrait of Bessie Smith, what characteristics would you emphasize, and why?
Keywords: singer, musician, 20s, 30s, American, Tennessee, #BecauseOfHerStory, #SmithsonianMusic
Walrus ivory is a precious sculptural material that for millennia has been carved into a nearly endless variety of forms essential to Arctic life, from harpoon heads to needle cases, handles, ornaments, buckles and many more. Naturalistic and stylized figures of animals and humans were made as charms, amulets and ancestral representations. Carvers today bring this conceptual heritage to new types of work.
During a week-long residency organized by the Arctic Studies Center at the Anchorage Museum in 2015, Alaska Native carvers Jerome Saclamana (Iñupiaq), Clifford Apatiki (St. Lawrence Island Yupik) and Levi Tetpon (Iñupiaq) studied historic walrus ivory pieces from the Smithsonian’s Living Our Cultures exhibition and Anchorage Museum collection, and demonstrated how to process, design and shape walrus ivory into artwork. Art students, museum conservators, school groups, local artists and museum visitors participated throughout the week. Also, a two-day community workshop in Nome was taught by Jerome Saclamana and hosted by the Nome-Beltz High School. The video set presented here introduces the artists and document the materials, tools and techniques they use to make walrus-ivory artwork. An educational guide with six lessons is included below pair with the videos, along with links to a selection of Iñupiaq and St. Lawrence Island Yupik objects from the Smithsonian collections that were carved from walrus ivory.
Tags: Iñupiaq, Inupiaq, Eskimo, ivory, walrus, carving, carver, carve, Native art, museum, education, St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Yupik, Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Alaska
The purpose of the project is to see what we believe is the most important part of the 1920's and 1930's.
Exploring the hexagon in design and engineering, using the honey bee as a model.
The Native Americans who lived in this area prior to the establishment of Fort Tejon are generally referred to as the Emigdiano. They were an inland group of the Chumash people. Unlike their coastal relatives, however, the Emigdiano avoided contact with European explorers and settlers, and were never brought into one of the missions or even incorporated into the Sebastian Indian Reservation. Once Fort Tejon was established, the Emigdiano often worked as independent contractors for the army, providing guides for bear hunts and delivering fresh fruits from their fields for sale in officers row.
In 1852, President Millard Fillmore appointed Edward F. Beale to the position of Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California and Nevada, and sent him to California to head off further confrontation between the Indians and the many gold seekers and other settlers who were pouring into California. After studying the situation, Beale decided that the best approach was to set up a large Indian reservation at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley and to invite displaced Indian groups to settle there.
In order to implement his plan, Beale requested a federal appropriation of $500,000 and military support for the 75,000 acre reservation he had selected at the foot of Tejon Pass. Colonel Ethan Allen Hitchcock, commander of the Pacific Division of the U.S. Army, supported Beale's plan and agreed to set up a military post on or near the Indian reservation. The army was eager, in any case, to abandon Fort Miller (near Fresno, California) in favor of a more strategically advantageous site in California's southern San Joaquin Valley.
In August 1854, Major J.L. Donaldson, a quartermaster officer, chose the present site in Canada de las Uvas. The site was handsome and promised adequate wood and water. It was just 17 miles southwest of the Sebastian Indian Reservation, and it was right on what Major Donaldson was convinced would become the main route between the Central Valley and Southern California.
For almost ten years, Fort Tejon was the center of activity in the region between Stockton and Los Angeles. The soldiers, known as Dragoons, garrisoned at Fort Tejon patrolled most of central and southern California and sometimes as far as Utah. Dragoons from Fort Tejon provided protection and policed the settlers, travelers and Indians in the region. People from all over the area looked to Fort Tejon for employment, safety, social activities and the latest news from back east.
Rockets are a favorite object for young children. They are large, powerful, and help people travel to outer space! What more can we learn about rockets?
The objects in this collection, from the crescent-shaped manilla to the colorful banknotes, formed part of West Africa’s vibrant and varied monetary system in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Each object has its own story about when and how it was used. A person shopping in a market in Accra, Ghana in the 1980s, for example, might have received the 1 cedi coin below as change from a small transaction. In the Akan language, the word “cedi” means cowrie shell, a currency which a person shopping in the same market a century earlier might have used. Like the 1 cedi coin, cowrie shells were used to make small purchases. Symbolically, the image of a cowrie shell appears on the coin. Not far from Accra, in the old Asante city of Kumasi, the figurative gold weights pictured here would have been used around the same time to measure gold dust for transactions ranging from significant market purchases to judicial fines.
How did West Africa move from a monetary system based on objects like manillas, gold dust, and cowrie shells to one based on notes and coins? It was once popular to attribute this change to the colonization of West Africa by European governments in the nineteenth century. According to this story, colonial governments wanted to impose their own “modern” currencies on West African economies to make it easier for merchants and colonial authorities to do business between the colony and Europe. From recent historical research on West African currencies and their uses, we now know the story is not that simple. Colonial governments did introduce new currency systems with European forms of money, but they were not immediately or universally adopted by Africans in the way that colonial governments intended.
After the end of the colonial period, some countries like Ghana and Nigeria, issued their own currencies as an expression of national sovereignty. Other new countries, such as Senegal and the Ivory Coast, focused instead on building or maintaining monetary unions with shared currencies in order to reinforce links between their economies. Some of these post-colonial coins and banknotes depict pre-colonial currencies, like the cowrie on the Ghanaian cedi coin or the Kissi penny on the Liberian dollar.
The history of West African money from the nineteenth century onwards reflects the history of economic, political, and social change in the region over that same period. This collection uses objects from the Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection to tell that history, linking to broader questions about the nature and uses of money, the ways in which economic change can influence how money is used, and the relationship between money and political sovereignty.
Below is a list of suggested readings on West African money and exchange. To see all of the West African currency objects in the National Numismatic Collection, click here. Please feel free to reach out to Dr. Leigh Gardner or Dr. Ellen Feingold with questions or feedback.
Gardner, Leigh A. “From Cowries to Mobile Phones: African Monetary Systems Since 1800.” In The History of African Development: An Online Textbook for a New Generation of African Students and Teachers, edited by Ewout Frankema, Ellen Hillbom, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani, and Felix Meier zu Selhausen. African Economic History Network (2018): https://www.aehnetwork.org/textbook/from-cowries-to-mobile-phones-african-monetary-systems-since-1800/
Guyer, J. and Karin Pallaver. "Money and Currency in African History.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History (2018): https://oxfordre.com/africanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.001.0001/acrefore-9780190277734-e-144
Arhin, Kwame. “Monetization in the Asante State.” In Money Matters: Instability, Values and Social Payments in the Modern History of West African Communities, edited by Jane I. Guyer, 97-110. London: James Currey, 1995.
Herbert, Eugenia W. Red Gold of Africa: Copper in Precolonial History and Culture. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.
Hogendorn, Jan S., and Marion Johnson. The Shell Money of the Slave Trade. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003.
Colonial currency systems and African responses:
Feingold, Ellen R. "International Currency Counterfeiting Schemes in Interwar West Africa." Journal of West African History 3, no. 1 (2017): 77-101.
Gardner, Leigh A. “The Curious Incident of the Franc in the Gambia.” Financial History Review 22, no. 3 (2015): 291-314.
Gardner, Leigh A. "The Rise and Decline of Sterling in Liberia.” Economic History Review 64, no. 4 (2014): 1089-1112.
Guyer, Jane I. “Introduction: The Currency Interface and its Dynamics.” In Money Matters: Instability, Values and Social Payments in the Modern History of West African Communities, edited by Jane I. Guyer, 1-34. (London: James Currey, 1995).
Helleiner, Eric. “The Monetary Dimensions of Colonialism: Why Did Imperial Powers Create Currency Blocs?” Geopolitics 7, no. 1 (2002): 5-30.
Hogendorn, Jan S., and Henry A. Gemery. “Continuity in West African Monetary History? An Outline of Monetary Development.” African Economic History 17 (1988): 127-146.
Hopkins, A.G. “The Currency Revolution in South-West Nigeria in the Late Nineteenth Century.” Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria 3, no. 3 (1966): 471-483.
Saul, Mahir. “Money in Colonial Transition: Cowries and Francs in West Africa.” American Anthropologist 106, no. 1 (2004): 71-84.
Money and national independence:
Schenk, Catherine R. “Monetary Institutions in Newly Independent Countries: The Experience of Malaya, Ghana, and Nigeria in the 1950s.” Financial History Review 4, no. 2 (1997): 181-198.
Stasavage, David. The Political Economy of a Common Currency: the CFA Franc Zone Since 1945. Aldershot: Ashgate (2003).
Uche, Chibuike U. “Bank of England vs. the IBRD: Did the Nigerian Colony Deserve a Central Bank?” Explorations in Economic History 34 (1997): 220-241.
World War II was a global conflict affecting all regions of the world, including West Africa. Africans from British and French colonies fought all over the world in the militaries of their colonizers. When Germany invaded France in 1940, Africans in French colonies were divided between the Vichy government in West Africa and the Free French resistance in Central Africa. The currencies issued by the two separate governments illustrate this divide.
Starting in the late 1950s, African nations became independent from European colonial powers. They used their new currencies to demonstrate their sovereignty by replacing European heads of state with national leaders. The new national coins and banknotes also depicted indigenous currencies like cowrie shells in Ghana and kissi pennies in Liberia, celebrating African cultural heritage.
How did colonialism affect the lives and livelihoods of Africans? The kinds of money people used can provide some clues. This collection contains coins and notes introduced by the colonial powers which Africans received in return for the sale of produce and used for paying taxes. It also includes cowrie shells, kissi pennies and manillas, which Africans often used to buy everyday goods in local markets despite colonial government policies banning them.
Welcome to the National Museum of African American History and Culture's Collection Connection Grid for National History Day 2020! Below is an assortment of selected documents, images, objects and videos that highlight the African American experience in relation to the 2020 NHD theme: Breaking Barriers in History. Use these items as inspiration for a project topic, or use the items to help expand your research on a topic you have already selected. This collection is designed to be self-guided by students and educators participating in National History Day.
Keywords: African American, NMAAHC, National History Day, NHD, Collection, Connection, Grid, breaking, barriers, history, project, topic, ideas, 2020
These classroom resources from different Smithsonian museums focus on African American history and culture.
Tag: Black History
This collections comes from a African American History Month family festival created to complement the exhibition, "The Black List." Included here are a gallery tour with curator Ann Shumard, and interviews with puppeteer Schroeder Cherry, guitarist Warner Williams, the Taratibu Youth Association Step Dance Group, silhouette artist Lauren Muney and collage artist Michael Albert.
Did American women [or the women of your state] deserve the right to vote in the early 20th century?
Who had the right to vote in the US [or your state] by the early 20th century?; What roles did women play in society at this time?; Who supported and opposed women's suffrage and why?
Though the answer to this compelling question might feel obvious to 21st century Americans, the issue was far from settled at the time. This dichotomy adds to its intellectual heft and engages students' inherent interest in fairness, discrimination, and rights. (It also connects to ongoing debates about the franchise and who is entitled to it.) The supporting questions invite students to learn more about voting in the time period, the changing roles played by women, and the people who might have supported or opposed women's political equality, all of which help scaffold students' investigations into the ideas and issues behind this compelling question.
How have women created space for themselves in the arts and culture?
This collection features resources related to the December 5, 2019, professional development webinar, "Remaking the Rules: Exploring Women Who Broke Barriers," hosted by educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. This joint webinar is one of three in the series A Woman’s Place Is in the Curriculum: Women’s History through American Art and Portraiture. Learn how American art and portraiture can bring diverse women’s stories into your classroom, connecting with themes you may already teach. Discover strategies for engaging your students in close looking and critical thinking across disciplines. #SAAMTeach #NPGteach
This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. To learn more, visit the Smithsonian American Women History Initiative website. #BecauseOfHerStory
How have women led the way in activism and social justice movements?
This collection features resources related to the October 8, 2019, professional development webinar, "Persisting and Resisting: Exploring Women as Activists," hosted by educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. This joint webinar is one of three in the series A Woman’s Place Is in the Curriculum: Women’s History through American Art and Portraiture. Learn how American art and portraiture can bring diverse women’s stories into your classroom, connecting with themes you may already teach. Discover strategies for engaging your students in close looking and critical thinking across disciplines. #SAAMTeach #NPGteach
This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. To learn more, visit the Smithsonian American Women History Initiative website.
Willi Smith (1958-1987)
Willi Smith was an African American fashion designer whose street wear line known as WilliWear was and experiment of democracy in fashion. WilliWear designs were known to be bold, blurring the lines between high and low culture, and his work often involved collaborations with other artists and designers. The openly gay designer's career was cut short when he died in 1987 from complications to AIDS.
This collection is a representation of the March 2020 exhibition Willi Smith: Street Couture at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum that features over 200 pieces from Smith’s work and career, including video, sketches, patterns, photographs, and garments.
This collection explores the significance of the Contemporary Muslim Fashion exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum. Contemporary Muslim Fashion includes an ongoing trend in modest fashion that extends beyond strictly Muslim audiences. The collection also examines examples of fashion from various regions, including streatwear and couture fashion, as well as current trends in overcoming the obstacle of athletic wear for modest and Muslim women. Finally the collection includes news articles that discuss the exhibition as well as the impact of contemporary Muslim Fashion on the global community.
Women’s identities are complex, intersecting with race, class, sexuality, etc., and have often been overlooked or erased from history. What is the importance of being able to express yourself and voice your story?
This collection features resources related to the November 7, 2019, professional development webinar, "Who Tells Your Story? Exploring Women and Identity," hosted by educators from the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. This joint webinar is one of three in the series A Woman’s Place Is in the Curriculum: Women’s History through American Art and Portraiture. Learn how American art and portraiture can bring diverse women’s stories into your classroom, connecting with themes you may already teach. Discover strategies for engaging your students in close looking and critical thinking across disciplines. #SAAMTeach #NPGteach
This project received support from the Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative. To learn more, visit the Smithsonian American Women History Initiative website. #BecauseOfHerStory
Why was Brazil one of the last countries in the world to abolish slavery?
The idea is to make learners understand the long-lasting slavery process in Brazil and be aware of its consequences to our society.
Supporting Questions: 1) When did it happen and what was the political context?
2) How slaves were treated?
3)Who took advantage of it?
By these questions leaners will grasp the whole scenario (economical, political, cultural and social) and see that the effects of this process is everywhere and explain social relations we have nowadays.
This collection is my response to the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.'s social media campaign asking, "Can you name five women artists (#5WomenArtists)?" The artists featured are Yayoi Kusama, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Kruger, Alma Thomas and Elaine de Kooning with short biographical notes, selected works and learning resources.
Anyone can create a collection on the Smithsonian Learning Lab. Here are some short tutorials to get you started: https://learninglab.si.edu/create. The Smithsonian Learning Lab can be a great research tool to learn more about your favorite artists, discover new artists and share collections of your favorites and new discoveries to provide inspiration for others. Discussion questions and additional sources of inspiration for exploring artists that may be new to you are provided at the end of this collection.
Tags: Women's History Month, Yayoi Kusama, Frida Kahlo, Barbara Kruger, Alma Thomas, Elaine de Kooning, #BecauseOfHerStory