You are on page 1of 3



US History 2011
Photographs are mirrors with memories. They reflect ourselves back to ourselves across time. They show us where we were, who we were with, and what we were like at various stages of our life. And taken in a chronological series of different points in a lifetime, they show how we- and our relationships- have changed and evolved over time. (Akeret 79)

This project will mix historical fact and educated fiction to create a realistic biography from the photograph. The project requires basic research skills and creative thinking. Highest points will be award for investigative prowess and greatest documentation on your project. This is research project so projects must use standard MLA form in citing the sources and formatting the works cited page. You will enter into the flow of the subjects life, and that life will become a vehicle to explore American history. The key objective of this project is to see our nation through their eyes, as they would have experienced it. You want to be honest and not overly embellish or romanticize their life. One way to approach the project is as a newspaper reporter. Be careful of stereotypes and be aware of misleading information that may have been added to the photo after it was taken.

Part 1: How do I figure out who this person was? When, where, and how did this person live?
The Photo One of the greatest sources of information will be the photo itself. Different types of photo techniques came into vogue as the technology evolved, for example tintypes. Tintypes were first produced in the 1850s. Keep close notes on where you find any information and make sure they are included in the project and works cited page. The Person(s) Fashions can be an excellent tool to date a photograph. When examining the fashions, don't just limit the research to their clothes. Look at the hairstyles, the backdrops, and the positioning of the subjects in the photo for clues. All of these can give some insight into different roles that people play, jobs they might hold, interests, even their economic status. The Pose One additional factor to explore in developing the personal history of the subject is to study their physical expression and positioning. There are copies of a chapter from Robert Akeret's book, Family Tales, Family Wisdom available in the room. The chapter has a fair amount of psycho-babel, however there is some good information on analyzing psychological aspects of photographs.

Part 2: The story . . .

The biography can be set at any point in the subjects life. You can write about events leading up to the photo, the actual moment the picture was taken, or subsequent events. You must make concrete connections between your subject and significant events in American history. Give their perspective on the events of the day.

Presentation Format

The Format The project is due October 17, 2011. Each presentation must have a works cited slide in proper MLA format. Your project will be in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. Projects should have between 7 to 10 slides. The Structure This is a presentation and a story all rolled into one. FIRST: Book Jacket?!? Yes a book jacket with an appropriate title and the authors names. You are creating a biography for this person, for it to be published you need to create a book jacket. SECOND: You need to deconstruct and explain when and where this photo was taken, who the subject of the photo was, what social class they belonged to, and what type of work they did. Most importantly, you will need to be able to justify why you believe this all to be true- before you tell the story! THIRD: Create and tell their story. In the process of telling their story you must tell the reader about America at that time. You can focus on a specific event or on general trends. Fourth: Works Cited

Photo History
National Geographic History of Photography PBS- The Wizard of Photography The Eastman Museum Library of Congress- Around the World in 1896 Smithsonian Museum of American History- Photography American Museum of Photography- A Primer History of Cameras and Photography

Fashion History
Cornell - Art, Design and Visual Thinking Fashion Institute of Technology- Collections