Social Studies

Social Studies (X) - High (X) - Middle (X) - WNET (X) - U.S. History (X)

Frankie Quimby of Sapelo Island | EGG: The Arts Show

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This video segment from Egg: The Arts Show presents a glimpse of the last island-based Gullah/Geechee community located on Sapelo Island. The original Gullah/Geechee were slaves. When slavery was abolished, the lands on the island were abandoned to the slaves. Frankie Quimby of the Georgia Sea Island Singers speaks of her pride for the island community and the importance of preserving the Gullah/Geechee culture. She also tells how the songs of the slaves also served as escape songs. For more about Sapelo Island, see “Ben Hall of Sapelo Island” and “Ronald Johnson of Sapelo Island.”

Picturing America - Dorothea Lange

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In this video from Picturing America on Screen, cinematographer Dyanna Taylor shares her earliest childhood influence: her grandmother, the renowned photographer Dorothea Lange. Taylor travels to the Library of Congress to see her grandmother's collection of photographs, including Migrant Mother, an iconic image of the 1930s. The photograph shows a poverty-stricken mother with her children and is best known for its emotional imagery and symbolic representation of Depression-era America.

Picturing America - Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Winslow Homer

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Learn about the Civil War through the art of Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Winslow Homer in this video from Picturing America on Screen.  Saint-Gaudens's Robert Shaw Memorial in Boston Common depicts a resonant, courageous act of the Civil War, in which the first regiment of African American soldiers recruited in the North for the Union Army fought a doomed battle on a South Carolina fortress.

The Winslow Homer image of a soldier returning to his farm after the Civil War in The Veteran in a New Field refers to both the desolation of war and the country’s hope for the future. While the farmer’s scythe called to mind the bloodiest battles fought—and lives lost—in fields of grain, the bountiful crop of golden wheat could also be seen as a Christian symbol of salvation.

Symbolism, Setting, and Post-World War Urbanization: Edward Hopper's House by the Railroad

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Edward Hopper’s famous painting House by the Railroad is featured in this video from Picturing America Onscreen. As the railroad tracks rattle by a once-grand Victorian home, so intersect the themes of modern progress and historical continuity. Students explore the period of urbanization and growing feelings of isolation in America after World War I, make ELA connections in studying the significance of symbolism and setting, write an ad to sell the house in the painting, and enrich the study of the play Our Town in the accompanying discussion questions and classroom activities.

Picturing America - The Chrysler Building

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The competitive climate of 1920s Manhattan drove the creation of the Chrysler building, which ultimately surpassed even the Eiffel Tower in height. William Van Alen made it distinctive through inventively applied Art Deco design, using machine-age motifs such as hubcaps and radiator caps, and American eagle heads in place of traditional gargoyles.

Maya Lin

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In this video segment from New York Voices, renowned architect Maya Lin talks about her work and identity as an American of Chinese descent. Lin has made valuable contributions to American architecture, one of the most popular and perhaps most controversial being the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. Some protested her appointment as architect of the memorial because of her Asian heritage. Lin's parents immigrated to America from China to escape communism, but Maya Lin was born in Ohio. In this segment, Lin talks about a museum she is designing and how it will represent a timeline of the Chinese American experience. The museum aims to break down stereotypes of Chinese people and show their legacy of contributions as Americans.

Picturing America - Quilts

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A thrifty way to make use of leftover fabric at a time when fabric could be scarce and expensive, quilts soon took on aesthetic and social dimensions in the hands of their makers in every region of America. Ingenuity, abstract invention, and the traces of changing American technology are revealed in the quilts handed down through families and displayed in museums today.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow | Who Was Jim Crow?

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Prior to the Civil War, in the early part of the 19th century, a white performer created the dancing and singing simpleton character "Jim Crow." The character mocked black people while entertaining white audiences by playing on white bigotry and racism. Following the Civil War and Reconstruction, after four million blacks became free, a racial apartheid occurred in the United States. The name "Jim Crow" became synonymous with this period in American history.

The Gilded Age: Architecture for the Elite | Treasures of New York: "Stanford White"

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This series of videos from Treasures of New York: Stanford White presents the Gilded Age, an era of great wealth and remarkable architecture. Through video, discussion questions, and classroom activities, students explore how architecture, literature, and art reflect the issues and concerns of the time period, and how the era still resonates today.

Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You | Race and Representation on Television: Norman Lear’s Good Times and The Jeffersons

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Student examine issues of race and representation on television in this media gallery from the American Masters documentary Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You. Students learn about the history of the 1970s shows Good Times and The Jeffersons, the Black Panthers, and how the Civil Rights Movement continues to influence media today. Social Studies and ELA connections push students to think about how stereotypes are present in television shows and to analyze their own experience watching TV.

Picturing America - Jacob Lawrence and Martin Puryear

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In this video from Picturing America on Screen, students learn about American artists Jacob Lawrence and Martin Puryear.

Inspired by the musical storytelling of West Africa’s griots, Jacob Lawrence employed in The Migration of the Negro Panel no. 57 a painted and written narrative to invoke how African-American families “came up” from the South to settle in cities such as New York, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Suspended above the floor and anchored by almost undetectable wires, Martin Puryear’s 36-foot Ladder for Booker T. Washington seems to float in space as it rises and abruptly narrows at the top. The artistic metaphor of a ladder not easily climbed dovetails with the contradictions in the legacy of slave-turned-educator Booker T. Washington.

Saarinen’s St. Louis Gateway Arch, Monument Design, and Westward Expansion

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Explore monument design and Westward Expansion in this video about the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Eero Saarinen’s famous arch sits on the Mississippi River and is considered the “gateway to the West.” Saarinen’s structure commemorates Thomas Jefferson and his efforts to open the West through the Louisiana Purchase and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Built in the 1960s, the Arch remains the tallest arch in the world. 

Animal Shelter Photographer

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In this video segment from WILD TV, meet Joyce Faye, an animal photographer. She visits animal shelters in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area to photograph the homeless animals awaiting adoption. There are 26,000 dogs picked up every year in Albuquerque. Faye volunteers her time and expertise taking photographs of the dogs and cats and displays them on her web site. She hopes that people will rescue an animal from the shelter and make it a pet. Faye encourages us to do what we can to make the world a better place. Even small gestures make a difference.

Looking for Lincoln | All Things Lincoln

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In this video segment, from the PBS documentary Looking for Lincoln, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. visits the Lincoln Museum to see the iconic “stove pipe” hat firsthand. He then travels to Beverly Hills for a tour of the world’s largest private collection of Lincoln-related artifacts.

Looking for Lincoln | Abraham Lincoln, Attorney at Law

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In this video segment, from the PBS documentay Looking for Lincoln, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin examine Lincoln's years as a "prairie" lawyer on the Illinois circuit, and discuss how they honed and polished Lincoln's confidence, sense of fairness, and social skills.

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