Digital Academy: Here to Help

By John Quirk

WWI Letter
WWI Letter

As we all get used to this “new normal” of working-from-home: trying to find a balance between working remotely, juggling ever-present domestic demands…or just trying to keep the cat from walking across the keyboard while we respond to emails.  Many parents are finding yet another hat they are forced to wear, that of teacher. In the midst of everything else going on this additional demand can be especially challenging.

We here at UofSC’s Digital Collections in conjunction with the South Carolina Digital Library (SCDL) are here to help.  We can offer some additional resources that will help keep your home-bound student engaged — at least long enough for you to get through that next Zoom meeting! Digital Collections’ website and the SCDL’s website offer thousands of primary source materials that compliment many K-12 lesson plans. These primary sources, like photographs, newspaper articles, letters, audio clips, moving images all have a unique way of bringing course content to life. These resources offer a welcome supplement to traditional textbooks.

Whether it is photographs of agrarian life in the Upstate, images of the aftermath of the Charleston Earthquake, letters from a WWI soldier or movies of the Attack on Pearl Harbor, there are a great number of engaging primary source items available at your students’ fingertips.

In fact, it is possible that there is so much content in these collections across the state that it might be daunting to find just the right materials. To make the search easier, the University of South Carolina, in collaboration with professional educators, created the S.C. Digital Academy. This website offers easy to find, standards-based lesson plans that link directly to digitized materials on the web that will support many K-12 lessons.

The S.C. Digital Academy is easily searchable by grade level and Standards-Based topics. The Document Based Questions were originally designed for professional educators, but for newly ordained Parent/Teachers, they provide direct access to useful materials. We hope you will find these resources helpful and that your “students” will find them engaging and even entertaining.

SC Digital Academy
SC Digital Academy

Mizell and the AFSC

By Stephanie Gilbert

M. Hayes Mizell and Mary Berry, Assistant Secretary for Education, U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare

The M. Hayes Mizell Papers is an important collection that Digital Collections (Digi) is currently working on.  This Civil Rights collection consists of over 160 boxes which is the largest that Digi is currently digitizing.  These past few months I have been scanning box 111 which is a collection of speeches by, or connected to, Mizell from the 1960’s and 70’s.  As mentioned in my previous blog, Hayes Mizell was the Director of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).  The AFSC is mentioned frequently in the majority of speeches scanned, which led me to research a bit more about them and Mizell’s connection with the group in South Carolina.

“Founded in 1917, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) is a Quaker organization that promotes lasting peace with justice, as a practical expression of faith in action” (About us, n.d.).  Established during World War I, the AFSC allowed objectors to serve their country without violence.  “They drove ambulances, ministered to the wounded, and stayed on in Europe after the armistice to rebuild war-ravaged communities” (AFSC history, n.d.).  The promotion of peaceful communities was not only a worldwide goal, but also a goal for smaller areas, such as South Carolina.  “By 1966 [Mizell] had come to work for AFSC as the South Carolina field representative of what was called ‘the American Friends Service Committee–NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund School Desegregation Task Force’” (Mizell, 1973, p. 2).  As their representative, he worked with people in the community, met with federal officials, and advocated for desegregation in schools.  In a way, Mizell became a voice for people who could not be heard.  He spoke up for lower income communities and worked hard for students and teachers who faced racial segregation as well as encouraging them to stand up for their rights and demand equal opportunities.

Bettye Boone, Hayes Mizell, and Jackie Williams – Southeastern Public Education Program – Staff Training for Title I Project, c. 1970’s

Mizell’s work reached far beyond the Civil Rights era and is still influencing people today.  The University of South Carolina’s African American Studies Program offers the Hayes Mizell Research Award.  This is awarded to students in African American Studies who utilize the Mizell Collection for scholarly research.  Each of the two students chosen receives five hundred dollars to aid in their research and writing. I am making steady progress digitizing the collection. Check back in March for an update!

References

Introduction to the M. Hayes Mizell Papers

By Stephanie Gilbert

My name is Stephanie Gilbert and I am one of the new Digital Assistants here at Digital Collections. Perhaps some of you have heard of Hayes Mizell. For several years, Mizell was a prominent Civil Rights Activist.  He served as director of the South Carolina Community Relations Program of the American Friends Service Committee from 1966-1982, and in one of his speeches likened his role to that of a “professional advocate”.  Mizell traveled all over the U.S. delivering speeches in support of school integration and educational improvements for students from low-income families. His collection includes personal images of himself and his associates as well as letters, programs, and copies of his many speeches.

Three Negative Strips from a Photoshoot for Hayes Mizell 
Three Negative Strips from a Photoshoot for Hayes Mizell
Hayes Mizell Giving a Speech 
Hayes Mizell Giving a Speech

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what exactly is my role when digitizing this collection?  As the digital assistant, the first step is always scanning.  I ensure that each item is clearly scanned, edited, and stored in the proper format. Next, I create metadata that is entered into an excel spreadsheet which will then be run through a series of programs to polish the data.  It then gets loaded online through ContentDM which makes it public so that researchers have full access to the materials.  Though this process is lengthy and detail heavy, it ensures that another format of the materials exist, so the documents are preserved physically and digitally.

Speech by Hayes Mizell to AFSC Middle Atlantic Regional Office Fall Retreat, October 2, 1976 
Speech by Hayes Mizell to AFSC Middle Atlantic Regional Office Fall Retreat, October 2, 1976

New job + new skill set = amazing!  I am thoroughly enjoying my time here at Digital Collections.  I have found it quite refreshing to meet new people and learn more about a different area of information science.  The environment is quiet, peaceful, and filled with friendly people who are a pleasure to work with and learn from.  I am also enjoying the Mizell Collection.  I find that I always become fond of whatever collection I work on.  I tend to form an emotional connection through physically handling documents, and the items in this collection to me serve as the physical embodiment of Mizell’s influence in the community.  It is so easy to form an attachment when you think of his work in this way.  It is also eye-opening to preserve items digitally as opposed to physically rehousing with folders and boxes.  I look forward to what else my future spent with Digital Collections and the Hayes Mizell Collection will hold!

Fresh Batch of DBQ’s!

By Kate Boyd & John Quirk

Calling all Social Studies Teachers! As you begin to think about returning to the classroom, please consider using a document-based question from this Fresh Batch!

Those of us working in Digital Collections spend our days providing access to rare and unique materials from the various Special Collection libraries on campus. We often marvel at the potential educational value of the digitized primary source materials. We have long sought to broaden the awareness of our digital collections to elementary school and high school teachers and encourage them to incorporate some of these materials into their lesson plans.

In 2017, Digital Collections and the S.C. State Department of Education’s Social Studies Coordinators received funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for a Literacy and Engagement with Historical Records grant. This grant funded three workshops for a total of forty-five teachers to write document-based questions using the Libraries and SC Digital Library’s digital collections. The workshops were conducted during the Summers of 2017 and 2018 with great success.

Thanks to a lot of support and help from Social Studies teachers, coordinators, and outside reviewers, we are finally at the stage of making these resources available online. The S.C. State Department of Education’s Social Studies Associates assisted throughout the project. Carolina Yetman and Lewis Huffman wrote the grant with USC Libraries’ Digital Collections. Jeff Eargle and Elizabeth King conducted the first workshop; and Stephen Corsini assisted with the last workshop and final stages of the grant. Three outside reviewers (Greg Grupe, Fay Gore, and Franky Abbott) with pedagogical backgrounds in K12, reviewed all the DBQs to ensure their integrity and Elizabeth King made sure they are up to the 2020 Social Studies standards. We were lucky to have the same excellent teacher, Matt Rose of Lexington Richland 5, teach the teachers for all three workshops.  Thank you, Matt! Also, thanks to those teachers that attended the Middle School and Social Studies conferences to share their work. We hope teachers across the country will use these to engage students in learning about South Carolina history.

The DBQ’s are presented in the South Carolina Digital Academy, a web-based resource, hosted by the University of South Carolina, that makes it easy to browse by grade level and subject matter. The lesson plans incorporate a wide variety of digitized materials such as maps, correspondence, photographs, moving images, posters and more. These types of primary source materials can bring history to life for students, giving them a window into the thoughts and feelings of generations past. By providing divergent view points and opinions in contemporary materials they encourage critical thinking. These tangible connections to the past can also create empathy for students who might otherwise feel distanced from it.

The S.C Digital Academy portal acts as a detailed catalog for the DBQ’s featuring easily accessible standards, vocabulary, time required, questions, contextual information and support materials. Each entry links to downloadable pdf documents that are designed to help make it easy for teachers to incorporate digitized primary resources into their classroom activities.

We are in the process of adding forty-four DBQs to the site, so check back frequently to see what is new. Some of the ones just up: