Tag Archives: Missouri history

‘Tech in a Northern Town’

Guest post by Amy K. Marshall. Library Director of The Craig Public Library in Craig, Alaska. Amy recently participated in a videconference- her first- with Cooperating School Districts’ and the Kemper Art Museum. Amy shared the experience with us:

I’m showing my age here, but I’ve always loved that catchy tune from the one-hit-wonder The Dream Academy: Life In A Northern Town. We don’t have a Salvation Army Band, but it is, for the most part, a staid life in Craig, Alaska on Prince of Wales Island.  People fish, hunt, gather berries and other resources—there is a strong subsistence-based population here. If you came to visit, you might not notice it so much, except when the herring are spawning and everything is “Fish Egg” Excitement like it is, well, this week!

Into this place, technology has touched a toe to the water. The Craig Public Library, thanks to the generosity of the AlaskaOWL Project (and the US Department of Commerce, The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rasmuson Foundation, and other contributors) is linked! The first link came with the installation of a T1 Broadband connection. The second link came with the installation of videoconferencing equipment that truly opened the world for the Prince of Wales Island Community. That the purveyors of the AlaskaOWL thought to train library personnel for the installation and use of the equipment is nothing short of inspired. And, when librarians from around the State of Alaska converged on The Golden Heart City of Fairbanks for the AKLA Conference in February, the AlaskaOWL Team had one more surprise for us: CILC.

“It’s there for you to use.” Alaska State Library’s Head of Development Sue Sheriff’s simple statement rang out as nearly a challenge for all the librarians in the room. We now have the technology. We need to put it to work for our communities and videoconferencing was one way in which to do that.

The first videoconference the Craig Public Library conducted was with the Mildred Kemper Art Museum: “History, Heroes, and Symbolism: A Visual Analysis of George Caleb Bingham’s Iconic Painting,” I was terrified. I know my patronage, and I knew there would be people who would want to be there for it, but I also had that butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling hostesses get when they realize they could be planning a party that no one will attend. I should never have worried. And, when Anchor Point out on the Kenai Peninsula, 750 miles away, joined us, the party stretched more than 3,000 miles across the Earth. Groups of people separated by these distances were able to see one another and exchange ideas: that is the power of this technology.

Our host, Allison Taylor, led us through a discussion of the painting, pointing out other period-specific works of art from which Bingham drew inspiration. We talked about the use of propaganda in art, how what was propaganda at the time could be viewed through the lens of history and somewhat softened (or not) depending upon the subject matter. What Allison probably did not realize, although she could see us talking, was that, when we politely muted our microphone on the Craig end, there were three or four in the group who were telling other stories, gesturing to the painting and scribbling notes. It was a far better party than I had imagined.

And now … a poem. As I watched eyes widen around the tables in Craig and Anchor Point, I thought, no one’s going to come to another party again. It was a writing exercise—for us to write an Ekphrastic Poem. We had fun with the word, because it’s so fun to say, but it is, in the end, a poem inspired by a work of art. Allison led us through it, and I was happy to see everyone scribbling notes, setting down words, following the instructions, heads bent, eyes narrowed, scanning the picture for colors, shapes, objects, for movements (no “ing” verbs allowed), implied or otherwise.

“Now,” Alison said, still smiling, “I want you to write five sentences or so, and link your nouns to your verbs in ways you wouldn’t expect.”

Here’s mine:

Rifles set at shoulders
Grey-blue skies billow as a
Shadow’d bird leans into the wind.
Branches brown and broken
Whip away the sun in set
As light glows against the
Red and brown of horse-borne hope.

After the videoconference ended and we all waved good-bye from our respective locations, the group around the tables in Craig remained rooted. We all shared our poems. We all shared our thoughts on the experience. We talked for over half an hour past the time of the video conference. Around us, other patrons drifted in to use the public use computers, to thumb through magazines, to take in the view of Klawock Inlet… and I knew they were there, but in that moment, there was just… us. There’s something about a shared experience. There’s something about creating anything in a group—be it a poem, a story, a building, or a fresh-baked pie. There’s a greater understanding of it. You see a collective process—how each individual approaches it. You’re better for it. That’s also the power of the tech and of presenters like Allison and programs like that of the Mildred Kemper Art Museum. We’re all better for it.

Take a RoundTrip in Missouri to the historic Martin F. Hanley House

Hanley House | St. Louis Post Dispatch
Hanley House | St. Louis Post Dispatch

Let your students travel back in time to and interact with primary sources, learn what it was like to live in mid-19th century Missouri, and be part of the Civil War as it happened. Please contact RoundTrips to enroll for any of the interactive videoconferences and to seek that additional information. As always, these programs are available FREE of CHARGE.  RoundTrips looks forward to hearing from you!

Program 1: A Day in the Life of 19th Century Midwestern Americans
Date:  November 5, 2008 SESSION NOW FULL
Time:  10 to 10:45 a.m.  Central Time
Grade Levels:  4, 5, 6
Take a trip back in time to middle America of the 1800?s as you tour the historic Martin F. Hanley House, a Greek revival farmstead built in 1855.  Meet house resident Aunt Cal as she shares daily life at the House.  Ask her your questions as you interpret historic artifacts.

Program 2: The Civil War as Experienced by One Missouri Family

Date:  November 5, 2008
Time:  11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Central Time
Grade Levels:  6, 7, 8, 9
America in the Civil War- what was it like to live through that struggle?  What can we learn about the War by hearing from people and seeing places that experienced it?  Go inside the lives of a family impacted by the War as you visit the Historic Martin F. Hanley House.

Program 3: Being an Historian: Using Primary Source Documents

Date:  November 5, 2008
Time:  1 to 2 p.m. Central Time
Grade Levels:  9, 10, 11, 12
How does an historian use primary source documents and artifacts?  What can those items tell us about a family, how they interacted with each other, and how they interacted with the world?  Visit the Historic Martin F. Hanley House for a critical thinking journey through time guided by primary sources.

Information about the historic Martin Franklin Hanley House:
Located in present day Clayton, Missouri, an inner ring suburb of St. Louis, the Historic Martin Franklin Hanley House stands as a window to our past illuminating the many people that lived and died within the once young St. Louis community.  Constructed by Martin F. Hanley in 1855, this Greek revival farmstead is typical of architecture of its day but its inhabitants were far from ordinary.

Today the home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it is the oldest structure in the City of Clayton, Missouri.  The Historic Hanley House remains relatively untouched by modern life and together with the surviving Hanley family letters, the history of nineteenth century rural Missouri comes to life within its walls.

Learn more about the house at http://tinyurl.com/4ch24u and http://tinyurl.com/3unau5