This exercise can help students discover how history is written. A good place to start would be to research the history of the Hill District through Teenie Harris’s photographs.
Pick photos from different eras and explore how people, places, and events have changed over time—and why. You can view Harris’s photos by theme or thread to find a sequence of images with similar content that range from the 1930s to the 1970s. How is change evident in the photographs?
You can also research some of the important figures from the civil rights era.
Lead a discussion comparing Teenie Harris and the Picturing the City photographs in terms of race and gender relations.
What do you notice? How have things changed over time?
Research additional legislation since these people, places, and events were photographed (examples such as civil rights, equality, etc.).
Compare everyday experiences to major events. How can both be considered history? How can regular activities be history as much as major events? When does something become history?
Identify both everyday occurrences and major events in your history book. What point of view about history does your textbook take? What else could be included?
Is history happening right now? Five minutes ago? Or is history only in the more distant past?
Find examples of major events represented in Teenie Harris’s work. Research how they were described in their own time. Are they discussed differently now?
Describe contemporary events from your current perspective. You can use Picturing the City photographs or ones the students take of their school neighborhood. What might it look like to someone looking back 50 years from now?
Discuss examples of trustworthy sources for history.
How do people change when they know they are being watched or photographed?
Read about Harris’s connection to the neighborhood and people he photographed.
Category: History and the Everyday
, Defending one’s opinion
, Making inferences
, Observation & interpretation