EXPLORING ONLINE: “The Negro Soldier” (1944)

exploringonlineThe National Archives’ YouTube page has many videos, some of them about their exhibits and others primary sources.

Exploring the site a bit, I came across this video from 1944: “The Negro Soldier”

It is a 40-minute long propaganda film that was meant to convince black Americans to enlist in the military during WWII. The YouTube page for the video provides almost no information about the film.

When I then googled “The Negro Soldier,” I found a myriad of different pages about it, the first being the Wikipedia entry about it (of course). While Wikipedia should never be taken at face value (though, I would argue that it’s a good starting point and students will always use it), one element of the site that is particularly useful is the footnotes/links at the bottom of entries.

The National Archives’ catalogue entry explains much more about the film:

This War Department enlistment film aims to recruit African Americans in its World War II engagement. The documentary has as its framework a black minister’s explanation to his congregation of the reasons they should join the armed forces to fight the Nazis. The viewer sees historical re-enactments of African Americans as valued participants in U.S. armed conflicts dating from the American Revolution. Scenes also detail Black accomplishments in the country’s history, with footage of Blacks as they served as judges and school teachers, conducted orchestras, played football, and served the U.S. Army in World War II. Footage is included of Jesse Owens and other Blacks as they competed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. “The Negro Soldier” was produced by Frank Capra and directed by Stuart Heisler, with music by Dimitri Tiomkin.

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Friday, Nov. 15: Lunch Workshop

blank01November 15 Lunch Workshop

  • from 12 to 1:30pm
  • in GAR conference room on the first floor

TOPIC: A Conversation about the Future of Teaching History

  • We will discuss, dream, and begin to develop a positive, holistic vision for the future of teaching history.  What do we want that to look like?  How can we make it so?
  • Let Jessica (the project’s GRA) know as soon as possible if you plan to attend and she will add your name to the lunch order: luther.jessica@gmail.com.

Supplemental Reading:

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Engagement: Part V. Mutatis Mutandis

As I have repeated throughout this series on engagement, I do not presume in presenting this “practical ideal” that anyone else will regard it as either practical or ideal for their own purposes or predilections. If any element of the proposed US History I course plan proves useful, I would be delighted. A key phrase to bear in mind here is “mutatis mutandis,” which is a fancy way of saying that I doubt the entire plan could be implemented wholesale–with no changes or modifications–in any context other than that in which it was conceived (namely, my imagination). So it is with my learning objective.

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HIS 392 Posts: Oct. 30 – Nov. 1


Previous post round-ups:

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More Ways To Make History

This week I was really interested in finding more ways to “make” history.

Steven F. Anderson’s Technologies of History is an exploration of ways of creating and viewing history that embrace the multimedia technologies that have emerged over the past century. While this book expresses many of the same ideas as T. Mills Kelly’s Teaching History in the Digital Age, I would argue that Anderson goes a bit farther in advocating for creating personal histories, alternative histories, and fake histories.  Where as Kelly primarily wanted people to make history to be engaged and learn technical skills, Anderson believes that the act of making history can lead to a deeper understanding of the way histories are constructed, and how based on that many points of view may be left out of the discourse.

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Engagement: Part IV. Building a History

The class project (The Genealogy of the American Present) for our imaginary US History I course of 320 undergraduate students will be a publicly readable (but not publicly editable) wiki that comprises multiple–often overlapping, sometimes contradictory–views of themes, events, individuals, groups, movements, and so forth, that constitute the warp and weft of the fabric of American society. The overlaps and the contradictions are there by design, reflective as they are of the consonance and dissonance (to use another metaphor) one hears when listening to what an experiment in democracy sounds like. The heteroglossia and the occasional dissonance are reminiscent of syncopated jazz [nod to the Beats], in which each “voice” (instrument) may appear to be going its own way—sometimes in turns, sometimes with others—to an underlying harmony that might not be apparent throughout the entire composition, but pops up here and there and eventually emerges to affirm to the listener that it was there all along, the structure to which all that diversity was anchored. This idea of citizenship in a democratic society is not a chorus; therefore, a history of that society should not sound like a chorus.

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Using Clickers in the Classroom

Classroom clickers have been adopted in lectures as a means to keep attendance and make assessments about student learning. The most straightforward use of clickers would allow instructors to record and track attendance by asking students questions during the lecture. Clickers would allow opportunities to quiz students at various points in the lecture to make sure that they are following and understanding the content of the lecture. Using this approach, instructors use technology to conveniently encourage attendance, and to pace the class according to assessment of student understanding. For these reasons alone, clickers offer real value in the classroom, especially the large lecture. There are also other worthwhile and creative uses for clickers that go beyond these obvious uses. Clickers can be used to facilitate student participation and peer engagement. This is especially valuable in large lecture classrooms where the logistics of student participation becomes difficult due to the sheer size of these classes. Technology has the potential to encourage participation, and can allow voices to the students.

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