I still have protest on my mind after this weekend. I also participated in a #sschat this evening. It got my gears turning again around the idea of teaching protest, this time on the object-based learning wheel. It also reminded me of one of my favorite museum blogs, O Say Can You See? Stories From the National Museum of American History. I frequently use the Smithsonian Collection Search Center, but oftentimes the catalog record doesn’t give me enough information and I find myself hunting for additional context. When I want to learn more about objects from the Smithsonian I cross my fingers and hope I can find more information about collections items on their blog.
Sure enough, today I found two great blog posts on protest items.
A Scrap of Suffrage History tells the story of a banner scrap in the museum’s collection, a piece of the banner that said “Kaiser Wilson Have You Forgotten Your Sympathy With the Poor Germans Because They Were Not Self-Governed? 20,000,000 American Women Are Not Self-Governed. Take the Beam Out of Your Own Eye.” I love using textiles in the classroom.
Sitting in for disability rights: The section 504 protests of the 1970s. Buttons are one of my favorite types of ephemera objects to teach with. They are readily available on Etsy, Ebay, and in antique stores and our students can easily connect with them. We still use buttons to show what we stand for. This one is from the 1977 section 504 sit-ins. Can you imagine being disabled and protesting with a sit-in? The conversation around this object not only teaches about an important part of 20th century history; it can also be a vehicle for teaching empathy and perspective.
This was my favorite images from the Women’s March. I think everyone can agree what we saw around the world on Saturday was history. When I saw this picture of protest signs outside the National Museum of American History I immediately thought of the registrars and collections managers at the museum, the ones who may be cataloging these objects in the coming days and I thought about the students 100 years from now who will be studying January 21, 2017 through those signs left outside the museum.
Once again…the power of objects. It’s a beautiful thing. A piece of fabric, a button, a poster board sign…everyday objects that teach us big lessons.