Spice up your sources!


This short blogpost is to draw your attention to source collections being produced by EUROCLIO on their Historiana website.

The HA is a founding member of EUROCLIO – the European Network of History Educators. They exist to support and promote high quality history education in Europe and beyond. Richard Kennett and I are currently the HA’s reps and Rich has written a previous blogpost following the EUROCLIO conference in Gdansk last year and you can find here.

EUROCLIO has been working to make the vast digital archive of Europeana more accessible to history teachers. It is not an easy archive to negotiate and the work to dig up/out interesting new sources from their labyrinthine system is therefore very welcome.

The source collections are useful for finding different sources than the ones we have become very familiar with for certain topics. They are also designed to be transnational, so are a very good way to break out of a too Anglo-centric approach to key topics. The best ones also offer the chance to take a variety of perspectives on a topic using the source collection as a set.

Most of the collections provide a good amount of provenance. That is really useful for teacher knowledge in the first instance. You shouldn’t need to go looking for the context yourself when very busy. Also, as everything is downloadable in powerpoint format, it is easy to adapt and reduce the provenance for your students’ needs, in addition to reducing the quantity of sources in the collection.

I really like the collection on Colonial Contributions to World War One. It goes beyond the Western Front and also beyond the British colonial story. For example, as well as an image of British King George V inspecting Indian troops, there is an image of French colonial troops building a road in Greece. These images can get us out of the trenches and out of a purely British mindset swiftly and effectively. 

I also like the railways and connectivity collection, mainly because there’s a fab map in there from c.1880s that shows the rail network on Europe. An amazing resource for showing relative economic development. Just have a look at who has railways, and who hasn’t. It’s great for giving a sense of period and context. 

And my other favourite, ripe for a ‘meanwhile elsewhere’ style homework, is the set of posters from the Spanish Civil War. ‘While Hitler was leading Germany towards war,  meanwhile in Spain…’ Teachers in the cities of the UK, such as Manchester and Liverpool, which sent men to the International Brigades in Spain might even have students who have family memories of these times.

For lots of support with how to use sources as evidence in the history classroom, you might like to start with the relevant What’s the Wisdom On. It provides an introduction to how the history teaching community’s thinking has developed over the years and draws from that some key principles for good practice.

Helen Snelson (@Snelsonh)
Chair of HA Secondary Committee

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