Though historians have long depended upon texts, they are increasingly turning to objects and images to enrich their understanding of the past. Visual and material evidence allows historians to recover aspects of the past that go unrecognized by documents. Such evidence enables scholars to verify or question longstanding assumptions in the field and inspires new kinds of questions. Thanks to the digital revolution, historical objects and images are more accessible than ever before. This course will familiarize students with a wide range of images and objects, and will arm them with a variety of approaches they can apply to such sources. Students will explore the history of New York City through analysis of visual and material evidence, and will consider the strengths and weaknesses of secondary literatures that rely upon these sources. The class will also discuss techniques for cataloguing and preserving visual and material records, and listen to the perspectives of professionals engaged in such work. Throughout, students will evaluate the potential and perils of these kinds of historical records, and consider how and why scholars have consulted (or ignored) such sources as they study the American past.
Syllabus / Class Blog
Both Archives and Public History