Public humanities

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
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.

Monday'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

Aunt Granny (Lula) Russeau

Aunt Granny (Lula) Russeau was born into slavery on August 15, 1861 on Barbour Street in Eufaula, Alabama. Both of her parents had American Indian heritage, her mother from Virginia and her father from South Carolina. Russeau’s father died when she was only a few months old. Her mother raised her alone, teaching her to be a “missy.” Rather than leaving the plantation after the Civil War brought freedom from slavery, her mother stayed with her masters. While Russeau was actually American Indian, she was often confused as an African American woman. Based on her accounts, she experienced what life was like as an African American woman.

Learn more about Aunt Granny (Lula) Russeau at Federal Writers' Project - Life Histories

Elle Goode Hardeman

As regent during the war, Hardeman was involved with many causes on the home front. The Liberty Hall Chapter sponsored the Fifth Company, Coast Artillery of the N.C. National Guard, a company that lived and trained in the Charlotte-based Camp Greene. The chapter sent Thanksgiving and Christmas boxes to them, hosted the company when they were in Charlotte on furlough, and provided dinners with entertainment on base when they were away. The DAR also kept close contact with the mothers of those in the Fifth Company and managed a list of where the men travelled throughout the wartime, even as some of them were transferred to other companies. Through the DAR, she also supported many war bond drives, sold thrift stamps, and helped raise patriotism on the home front.

Learn more about Elle Goode Hardeman at World War I -- Life Histories

Frances E. W. Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born on September 24, 1824, to free black parents in Baltimore, Maryland. Her story, The Two Offers, written in 1859, is considered the first short story published by an African American woman. Harper is an important figure to study not only because of her literary accomplishments, but also because she devoted her literary and oratorical talents to “crafting freedom” for others. Orphaned at the age of three, Frances E. W. Harper was raised by her uncle, Reverend William Watkins, who was a political activist, clergyman, and director of Baltimore’s Academy for Negro Youth.

Learn more about Frances E. W. Harper 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


  • 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]