Many teachers want to make that local connection with their students who are sometimes unaware of the importance their area might have played in larger American History. There are a plethora of local sites and museums that are terrific jumping-off points for dynamic lessons, but I’d like to focus attention on a very useful site for educators, Hudson River Valley Heritage (HRVH).
HRVH is a truly wonderful resource for educators and is easy to navigate. Their mission, according to the site is, “to explore materials from libraries and cultural heritage institutions that document the rich history of New York’s Hudson River Valley.” Contained in this site are, “photographs, diaries, correspondence, artwork, publications, oral history interviews, and more that contribute to the story of the people, places, and events that make this region exceptional.” Finally, they are also starting to build a lesson plans database as an additional resource for educators.
I have used this site, and some of its images, for impromptu writing (images as texts) at the start of class. Postcards and images are also great to compare and contrast over time. Using multiple images over time of Washington’s Headquarters in Newburgh for example, can show students change over time. In the case of Newburgh, from from a village to a bustling city. In addition to images and postcards, there are also many diary entries. One example is the diary of Johannes LeFevre from New Paltz, who served during the Civil War. His diary helps students better grasp the war from a local perspective. Using primary sources helps place their community in context with the larger conflict.
Teachers are always on the lookout for new resources to engage their students. HRVH is one of those sites that can be one more tool in their box.