American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

October 2001

Reflections on September 11

This week marks the one-month anniversary of the terrible events of September 11th. In the weeks that have passed, like so many other New Yorkers we have moved from shock to mourning to a resolve to emerge from this catastrophe with a greater commitment to social equality and public knowledge. That working people played such a significant role as both the victims and heroes of this catastrophe only increases our determination to continue our twenty-year effort to recover, present and teach workers’ history.

There has been a lot of discussion that September 11th “changed everything.” We can’t, of course, foresee the future, but there is no question that we all will be facing significant challenges. The crisis in education lamented by politicians and educators alike will only increase. Moreover, recession and a reversal from social to military priorities can only exacerbate recent trends to defer critical thinking to simply “teach to the test.”

In the coming months, in addition to our ongoing faculty development, teaching-with-technology, and new media programs, ASHP will join with other public history projects to collect resources and create materials to help teachers, students, and the general public understand September 11th and its aftermath. Now, more than ever, it is urgent to learn about the past in order to understand how to cope with the present and to devise constructive ways to repair and change our city, nation and world.

Putting the Past Onstage: The Relationship of Theater and History

Hip Hop to History conference
New York City High School students performing a song they wrote at ASHP/CML

Wednesday, October 24, 6-8 PM, Martin Segal Theatre, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 5th Ave. at 34th St.

Join us for a seminar on the presentation of the past, including a conversation among artists who have created theatrical presentations out of their extensive research into historical figures and events. This discussion, with Wesley Brown, Brian Freeman and James V. Hatch, will consider theater as a medium for presenting history, and take up such questions as: What kind of issues do playwrights face when they use historical sources? What are the benefits and drawbacks of theater as a medium for communicating about the past? How do playwrights and historians communicate with each other? What can a play do that a history book cannot?

CUNY Wired!

On Friday Nov. 16th at 12:30 new media and online projects by students and faculty from across CUNY will be presented at an informal lunch/workshop in the Martin Segal Theatre at the Graduate Center. The purpose is to view work in advance of the spring 2001 CUNY Wired! conference organized by the Graduate Center’s New Media Lab.

All are welcome. For information contact New Media Lab Managing Director Andrea A. Vasquez at 817-1967 or e-mail.

History Matters

History Matters: The U.S. Survey on the Web continues to expand and offer useful resources for teaching about the American past. During the fall we will sponsor three “Talking History” online forums for teachers: Reconstruction with Guest Moderator Eric Foner in October; U.S. History in Global Perspective with Guest Moderator Thomas Bender in November, and Religion with Guest Moderator Christine Heyrman in December. Later this fall we will debut the first in a series of interactive guides to analyzing particular types of historical evidence such as oral history, films, and maps. To subscribe to the forums and check out the new additions to History Matters go to

The Lost Museum

We are pleased to announce that The Lost Museum: Exploring Antebellum American Life and Culture our digital 3-D re-creation and archive of P. T. Barnum’s American Museum, has received a major production grant from the Division of Education of the National Endowment for the Humanities. With the help of this grant, we will virtually construct more museum rooms, significantly expand and restructure the Archives section, and develop a new feature, The Museum Classroom.

Labor at the Crossroads

Labor at the Crossroads, a cable TV program about working people, has received a North Star Fund grant this year in the amount of $4000 for general operations.

Learning to Look

Learning to Look: Visual Evidence and the U.S. Past in the New Media Classroom (LtL) is a collaborative research project for humanities faculty interested in exploring the study of American history, art history, and new media technologies. Fueled by the new history scholarship and the growth of digitized archives on the World Wide Web, LtL focuses on teaching strategies that will help advance student understanding about the past through the use of visual evidence: photographs, illustrations, painting, film, and drawings.

LtL’s structure includes week-long institutes, leadership training seminars, campus workshops, case study reports, and curriculum development projects. The program will be held on 10 college/university campuses across the nation from Massachusetts to California, and Louisiana to Michigan. For more information contact: Donna Thompson.