Posts Tagged Flikr

Public History and Public Outreach

Jul 7th, 2015 Posted in Public History | no comment »

After reading the article, “Pictures to dream with: A public historian in the nursing home,” an NCPH Public History Commons posting, a whirlwind of ideas came to me. The article deals with a public historian using the history at their fingertips to engage a nursing home audience. As a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, one of my favorite things is our time spent with elderly veterans—caroling at Christmas at the VA Hospital, or meeting them as they leave or return from their visits to Washington, D.C. (on the Honor Flight), or serving at a local homeless shelter for veterans (MANA House). I also have long thought that D.A.R. would be a fantastic avenue for doing volunteer work at more senior centers, and maybe some chapters do that as well.
The author of the article writes, “Senior centers, nursing homes, and perhaps even hospital rooms are places public historians should think more about. These are places where resources at our disposal can, with a modest investment of time, meet important existing needs.” She’s absolutely right. They are also places where history is disappearing at a rapid rate. These seniors could also fill a need for public historians. For example, the Library of Congress uses Flikr to crowd source their photographs and get feedback from the public, who might know the when/where of an unknown photograph. (See here.) Many other archives and museums also do this, and other similar programs such as the Memory Project. (See the Arizona Memory Project, for example).  But consider that as the years keep going by, the audience that might have those answers is largely not tech-savvy and also probably not aware of where to look for such photos. Bringing them to these people is a way to possibly capture local history before it fades away. Think of the oral history that could be collected as the author shows her slide shows or the family history that could be captured from a sparked memory from one of these photos.

Like the author says in her other blog post, it may not solve large-scale problems, but I think it’s a great idea and a way to reach more people – and show more people – what public history is all about.