Just for Fun: History in Color

If it’s too hot to think, grab some ice water and coloring pencils and relax by coloring images from historical collections. The #ColorOurCollections initiative of the New York Academy of Medicine was in February, but don’t worry if you missed it: the coloring books created for the social media event are still available online at http://library.nyam.org/colorourcollections/.

There were 120 institutions from around the world participating, including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Vatican, the National Museum – The Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, and Bodleian Libraries.  Be realistic or get as fantastic as you like!

And finally, a small bonus online activity: color in a page of the Gutenberg Bible at the Ransom Center at UTAustin

Page of Gutenberg Bible colored in online.

Resource Highlight: Fragile States Index Data

Data used in the Fragile States Index from The Fund for Peace can be used to create many different kinds of visualizations and explorations: scores and rankings, country dashboards, comparative analyses, trend analysis, FSI heat maps, and so on.  Use it to see which indicators FFP says are getting better or worse in a country, to argue over the political importance/relevance of those indicators, and to spark discussions about methodology.

For example, the United States is a stable country, but according to the index it has been worsening over the years:

Data from the U.S. country dashboard

(One irritating thing about the site is that it’s not responsive, so you will have to enlarge the window until the whole thing fits if you don’t want to continually scroll side-to-side.)

The Mayans Wrote Books, Too

The manuscript itself is a map of linguistic evolution. Four different languages are represented. It would be only natural to find Latin and Spanish. But two native tongues of the Mayan Empire, K’iche’ and Kaqchikel, are also part of this written record…The existence of this language into the modern age is a testament to a people who vehemently resisted the Catholic Church’s attempts to convert them and the efforts of Europeans to assimilate them.

Source: The Mayans Wrote Books, Too

Great post about the political meaning of the Libro de Sermones Varios en Lengua Quiche (1690).  It’s the oldest manuscript in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archives, and has been recently digitized (for more on the book, see the links in the post).  For more information on Mayan culture in general, see WorldView Software’s World History A, Chapter 12 Pre-Columbian Latin America.

Resource Highlight: the IT History Society

The IT History Society http://www.ithistory.org/ is an international group of over 700 members working together to document, preserve, catalog, and research the history of Information Technology (IT). One of their most useful things for students and teachers on their site is an International Database of Historical and Archival Sites, where you can look up and research everything from pre-Apple history to ZZT-oop (an early in-game scripting programming language). The databases are listed alphabetically, and can be sorted by institution or country.

Data Visualization

The featured image is an example of first-rate data visualization. It depicts the totality of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, with a column for the number of people who embarked in a given year, and a column for the number of people who disembarked.  Not only is it clear and easy to read, but the use of a lighter color to denote “embarked” vs. a darker color for “disembarked” means that the difference — those who died during the Middle Passage — looks ghostly.

The graph is part of an interactive timeline from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.  The database is an incredible compendium of information from shipping manifests, logs, and so on for over 27,000 voyages.

Learn more about the trans-Atlantic slave trade in WorldView Software’s World History A, particularly Chapter 20: The Age of New World Exploration, and Internet Project: Triangular Trade.


BulbgraphOnOffGuided essays lead students step-by-step through the essay writing process, from selecting the main idea to writing the conclusion.


Preview WorldView Software’s programs for free at company logohttp://www.worldviewsoftware.com/preview/

Resource Highlight: Hip Hop Sheet Music

If your class is researching issues in contemporary American society, you could create a soundtrack using already-recorded music — or you could get the sheet music and play it yourself.  To that end, believe it or not, there is a site that has sheet music for hip hop: http://www.hamienet.com/Hip-Hop/  The featured image above is an electric guitar track from Notorious B.I.G.’s “Mo Money, Mo Problems.”

And if there’s a song to which you want the notation, try creating it with Transcribe!, ScoreCloud, or TwelveKeys software (and remember to share it).

Social morphogenesis and the limitations of political modelling

“If we rely on past and present data to predict future events, the weakness of the model we use will reside in its capacity to cope with genuine novelty. One response to this might be to account for such novelty as once-in-a-lifetime chance occurrence. But one of the conclusions we might draw from the Centre for Social Ontology’s Social Morphogenesis project is that social novelty is being generated at an ever-increasing rate.”

— Source: Mark Carrigan

[Interesting discussion of the concept of novelty, using the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign for examples.  Brainstorming or scaffolding about novelty with the class is a tremendous way to introduce or conclude units!]