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.

Tuesday's featured articles[edit | edit source]

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

Bessie Mae Boatwright

Boatwright, along with her four younger siblings, was raised by her mother, Cora Boatwright, who was also prostitute. Boatwright was six years older than her sister, Margie; eight years older than her next sister, Ruth; nine years older than her only brother, Billy, and 12 years older than her youngest sister, Ruby Lee. Billy was crippled in an unknown manner. Billy was crippled in an unknown manner, however his benefitted the family — he would receive a free business course because of his disability.

Boatwright frequently assisted her parents in bootlegging as a child. It is unclear whether her parents were ever caught for the act, but Boatwright assumed the majority of the responsibility as she got older.

When Boatwright was young, her parents’ marriage was defined by both verbal and physical conflict. The Boatwright parents often fought, especially when drunk.

Learn more about Bessie Mae Boatwright at Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories

Elmer Roberts

Roberts was made the chief of the Associated Press office in Paris, France on January 7, 1911. His work here mostly included dictating what stories were published, where his reporters were looking for stories, and ensuring his branch was on top of all of the most important news. Roberts often received correspondence from AP workers in America dictating to him what stories should be covered and complaining about other news sources being faster.

During the WWI, Roberts and his staff reported all the defeats and victories of the troops. Roberts also kept an extensive record of the happenings of the war in a personal journal.

Learn more about Elmer Roberts at World War I -- Life Histories

Elizabeth Keckly

Elizabeth Keckly was a remarkable individual who was born into slavery in 1818 just south of the major market center of Petersburg, Virginia. She learned her craft – sewing – from her mother, who was an expert seamstress enslaved in the Burwell family. When Reverend Burwell, Keckly’s master and half-brother (they shard a father) relocated to Hillsborogh, North Carolina, in 1832, she soon followed. Six years later, Anna Burwell, Keckly’s mistress, started a school for young girls in the family home, with an already over-worked Keckly charged as the sole servant. In the Burwell household, Keckly was subject to physical and sexual abuse. She gave birth to her only child, a son, as a result of being molested by a white acquaintance of the Burwells.

Learn more about Elizabeth Keckly at The Crafting Freedom Project

Featured learning projects[edit | edit source]

Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories[edit | edit source]

"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 | edit source]

Learn more at Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories

World War I -- Life Histories[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

Learn more at World War I -- Life Histories

The Crafting Freedom Project[edit | edit source]

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 | edit source]

Pillbox, Shako, and Cap[edit | edit source]

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

References[edit | edit source]

  • Quay, James; Veninga, James (October 5–7, 1989). Making Connections: The Humanities, Culture and Community. National Task Force on Scholarship and the Public Humanities. Racine, Wisconsin: American Council of Learned Societies. Retrieved 25 Jan 2016. We think it more useful and more accurate to consider scholarship and the public humanities not as two distinct spheres but as parts of a single process, the process of taking private insight, testing it, and turning it into public knowledge.

See also[edit | edit source]