Public humanities

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Federal Writers' Project Interviewer

Public humanities is the work of federal, state, nonprofit and community-based cultural organizations that engage publics in conversations, facilitate and present lectures, exhibitions, performances and other programs for the general public on topics such as history, philosophy, popular culture and the arts. Public humanities programs engage everyone in reflecting on diverse heritage, traditions, and history, and their relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of life.

The resources listed below are examples of Public humanities work conducted at Wikiversity.

Wednesday's featured articles[edit]

Different articles are featured here each day of the week. Visit again tomorrow to discover new public humanities resources.

Picking fruit at the John C. English seedling grove in Alva, Florida. Sampson English (left) was grove foreman for the Owanita Citrus Association.

Learn more about the Florida citrus industry worker Horace Thompson at Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories

Bob Curtis

Curtis’ birth date is unknown, and he spoke little about his early life when interviewed. He worked many jobs during his life, including saw mill worker, cotton mill worker, and teamster. He typically earned between $0.75-$1.50 per day. He was briefly involved in the moonshine business, but left due to fear of imprisonment.

Because of the effects of the Great Depression on Alabama, Curtis left industrial work, which he said was being “ruined” by “machines”. He became an independent fisherman, working in the Coosa, Warrior, Alabama, Chattahoochee, and Tallapoosa rivers. During this time, he lived with his wife in temporary houses along the banks of these rivers.

Learn more about Bob Curtis at Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories

Ernest Boyce McKissick

In June of 1918, McKissick was drafted in the Colored Barracks of Camp Jackson, South Carolina. When he arrived, a measles breakout shortly followed, causing his transfer to the first artillery of Camp Merritt, New Jersey in August 1918. After a two-week training regimen, he was transferred to the 92nd Infantry Division. reaching France by September 1918.

He stayed in the 349th Field Artillery, Battery F for the rest of the year. He saw 18-19 days of battle on the Western front until October 6, 1918. Although he mainly served as a technology specialist, he had directly fought in Xon, France.

Learn more about Ernest Boyce McKissick at World War I -- Life Histories

Edmonia Lewis

Mary “Edmonia” Lewis, known as Edmonia Lewis, was born c. 1845. Her mother was a Chippewa Indian who was married to an African-American man. Because her mother had free status, Lewis was born free. Historians are uncertain of her place of birth, but the most likely location is upstate New York (in or near Rensselaer County). After becoming an orphan at a young age, Lewis was raised primarily by her mother’s tribe. She briefly attended Oberlin College’s preparatory school for young girls when she was fourteen.

Learn more about Edmonia Lewis at The Crafting Freedom Project

Featured learning projects[edit]

Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories[edit]

"Negro farmer talking with warehouse man about price he received at auction for his tobacco" Durham, North Carolina: November, 1939

The Federal Writers’ Project was funded by the federal government under the New Deal during the Great Depression in order to support written work during desperate economic and social times. A number of different projects were undertaken for this initiative, among them was the Folklore Project which consisted of interviewing everyday people from all walks of life from across the country. This page is dedicated to making these life histories public to a worldwide audience, thereby giving these people a permanent place in the online historical record. These life histories detail the complexities of race, gender, class, and the general turmoil of the Great Depression. As such, they are ripe for further historical investigation and analysis. Further, the actual process by which these life histories were created is not without many problems. These life histories are not oral histories, but rather the writer's interpretation of the lives of the people who gave the interviews. As such, these life histories, like all pieces of historical evidence, must be interrogated to understand how they were created, what type of information is included, and what is left out. Below are links to some of the student projects.

Life Histories[edit]

Learn more at Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories

World War I -- Life Histories[edit]

Students' Army Training Corps induction in November 1918 at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Using the archives at the University of North Carolina's Wilson Library, students examined the life of one individual connected to World War I. These individuals ranged from soldiers to activists to medical personnel and well beyond. Using primary documents such as diaries, letters, and memorabilia, students not only documented the life of these individuals, but also examined the social, political, and cultural contexts surrounding each individual's life during the war. Below are links to some of the student projects.

Life Histories[edit]

Learn more at World War I -- Life Histories

The Crafting Freedom Project[edit]

The Resurrection of Henry Box Brown at Philadelphia, a lithograph by Samuel Rowse published in 1850

The Crafting Freedom Project focuses on the development of lesson plans for teaching about little-known, but significant nineteenth-century African Americans. Our focus is on 3rd-8th grade lesson plans. Phase I of our multi-phase project concerns the development of instructional materials and lessons that feature the following women Freedom Crafters: Frances E. W. Harper, Harriet Ann Jacobs, Elizabeth Keckly, Edmonia Lewis, and Sally Thomas. Phase II. (Spring /Summer 2008) will be expanded to include these freedom crafters: Lunsford Lane, Henry "Box" Brown, and William Henry Singleton. These individuals have received much scholarly attention in recent years and are historically significant, yet remain little known beyond the academy. They—and thousands of other African Americans like them—crafted freedom by purchasing it, through active resistance to slavery, through their art and creative expression, and through their spoken and written words.The purpose of this Wikiversity project is to involve classroom teachers, professional educators, scholars, and other interested parties in the process of creating unique, rich, and innovative curricula for teaching students about the lives of these remarkable Americans. This Wikiversity learning project is being used as a development environment. The lesson plans that emerge from this project will be available on a website for educators, targeted especially to elementary and middle grade teachers.

Learn more at The Crafting Freedom Project

Developing learning projects[edit]

Pillbox, Shako, and Cap[edit]

These writings follow the life of a London family living in Victorian and Edwardian times; they deal in particular, with the enlistment and actions of Albert Edward Kearey, b1889. The Keareys’ were originally from Gaelic Ireland - from northern Tipperary, emigrating at the turn of the eighteen hundreds. His ancestor, settled at first in Westminster, then Paddington, finally Kensal Green. Albert volunteered - to be a recruit in the local Volunteers, The Kensingtons. Through meritorious behaviour, awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal [DCM], and Mentioned in Dispatches [MID], with clasp [London Gazette, 11 March, 1920], eventually, over a period of almost thirty years, became their Regimental Sergeant Major. In WWII he was promoted to Major, second in command of the 17th London Division, with orders to attend to the protection of north London.

Learn more at Pillbox, Shako, and Cap


See also[edit]