The Collections at a Glance
“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.”
John Berger, Ways of Seeing
The Civil Rights Era is often taught with a focus on people and events in the southern region of the United States. While the collection explores the African American equality movement through the lens of school integration, it also offers ways to consider the unique, but related, struggles of additional groups: Chicanos, women, and Native Americans.
Social Studies, U.S. History, Literature, and English Language Arts
- School integration and the demand for educational reform: Little Rock, Boston, and Los Angeles
- Voices of change and the use of argument: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, Malcolm X’s The Ballot or the Bullet speech, the National Organization for Women’s Statement of Purpose, and the Alcatraz Red Power Movement’s Alcatraz Proclamation
This collection is unique in that, through the investigation of water on Mars, it illustrates selected parts of the NGSS goals for understanding the nature of science and the processes of science and engineering. The collection illustrates how photographs are an essential data source for scientific investigation of remote and inaccessible locations.
Earth and Space Science, Engineering
- The nature and processes of science: what scientists and engineers do and how they do it
- Using photographs to study inaccessible locations such as Mars
As the promise of factory jobs and higher wages attracted more and more people into the cities, the United States began to shift to a nation of city dwellers. By 1900, 30 million people lived in cities.
Within the cities, enclaves of immigrants created tight-knit communities based on their common culture. Photographers such as Jacob Riis and Louis Hine were able to capture some of the domestic scenes of children and their families, which showed that while life certainly was not easy, there was still a sense of community and pride.
Social Studies, U.S. History, Literature, and English Language Arts
- The rapid urbanization caused by waves of immigrants coming from eastern and southern Europe, as well as from China, from the 1880s–1920s
- Child labor practices that were commonplace in mills, factories, and mines
- Immigrants struggling to maintain their cultural identity in the midst of creating a new home in the United States
In this collection, students use photographs as data to observe and identify changes over time in water-related features, and how they relate to the consequences of climate change to humans and habitat.
Earth and Space Science, Physical Science, Social Studies, Environmental Studies
- Using photographs and satellite imagery to identify and observe changes in the Earth’s features over time that indicate climate change
- Using photographs and satellite imagery to prompt discussions on the relationship between the water cycle, weather, and climate, especially the contribution of oceans
In 1968, an unprecedented number of youth-led popular uprisings swept the globe in places as disparate as Japan, the United States, France, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, and beyond. Protestors raged against governments from democratic to autocratic—and in each case, the state raged back. Students demanded change from the status quo. This collection of photographs and activities explores the question, “Why 1968?”
World History, U.S. History, Social Studies, English Language Arts
- Student protests and worker strikes in France
- The “Prague Spring,” the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and anti-Soviet youth protest
- Student protest in Mexico
- Columbia University student protests
During the early part of the twentieth century, Harlem was symbolic of a new political, artistic, and musical expression of African Americans who had recently migrated from the southern United States. Nowhere was this more apparent than on the streets of Harlem, where photographers extensively documented scenes of not only daily life, but also of political and societal events. This collection explores this post-war era, which gave rise to several organized political and economic movements that helped fuel the Harlem Renaissance.
Social Studies, U.S. History, American Literature, and English Language Arts
- The Harlem Renaissance
The photography of the Dust Bowl and Depression era is vast and rich, with images that were often commissioned by the Historical Section of the Farm Security Administration (FSA) and available through the Library of Congress. The FSA commissioned and collected of more than 270,000 photographs. These photographs were intended to provide the urban and suburban population of America with images that would evoke humanitarian responses to the plight of those facing adversity from the economic and environmental crises of the 1930s.
U.S. History, Geography, American Literature, Language Arts, Earth Science
- 1930s Dust Bowl and the Greenbelt Plan of Roosevelt’s New Deal
If you ask students to picture the concept of energy, they might conjure up the images in this collection. They may have difficulty explaining how the photographs represent energy, however. This collection explores how humans have engineered ways to store energy and use energy transformation to do work.
Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Engineering
- Using photographs to recognize energy effects in the natural world
- Examining ways to capture, store, and use energy for work
Focusing on the course of European political domination in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this collection considers some of the interactions between people in Africa and India and their European colonizers, and explores the ways in which colonialism affected the colonizer and the colonized. Photography was an essential tool of colonialist regimes, as photographers traveled widely during the turn of the century.
World History, Social Studies, Geography, Literature
- Colonialism, the system of control by European powers over parts of Africa and the subcontinent of Asia
- The origins and instrumental uses of colonial photography
- Resistance to colonialism in the form of nationalist movements by using two case studies: India and Algeria
In this collection, students will consider what happens to items that they and everyone else on the planet throw away. Thinking like engineers, they will define a problem by categorizing and quantifying components of trash, and consider different solutions to the problem of dealing with rubbish. The photos will give students a starting point for weighing the pros and cons of recycling, composting, landfills, and other ways to get rid of garbage.
Life Science, Earth and Space Science, Engineering, Social Studies
- What happens to our waste
- Composting and the carbon cycle
In this photo collection, see how random mutations, human selection, and genetic engineering have affected living organisms. Considered are the effect of these elements of change on society, and the benefits and potential harms of genetic engineering.
Life Science, Engineering, Technology, Applications of Science (optional: Physical Sciences)
- Concepts of the central dogma (DNA, RNA, and protein), heredity, natural selection, and evolution
The world has known refugees and displaced people since the beginning of time. The story of flight from danger or strife is a common narrative of humankind. Currently, some 60 million individuals have been forcibly swept from their homes because of violent conflict and/or persecution. This staggering statistic describes a world in the throes of a massive crisis of human displacement and humanitarian suffering. This collection of images from world-renowned photographers will take teachers and students beyond the headlines and statistics, providing historical, cultural, geographical, political, and economic context. A focused examination of photographic imagery will help bring their stories, struggles, and successes to life, and provide insights into an aspect of civilization that is often overlooked.
Social Studies, Current Events, Contemporary World History, U.S. History, and Geography
- Forced displacement and refugees
- Social justice and the rights and needs of refugees
- The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees