Grab the books, tablets, pens, and pencils – school is back in session! A new school year can mean many things: new discoveries, friendships, challenges, and homework (for parents, teachers, and students!). In order to facilitate the transition from summer to school, support teachers, and engage students and parents, many state humanities councils have launched, or are in the process of launching, digital state encyclopedias complete with toolkits for teachers, virtual tours of historic sites, tourist information, recordings, easy-to-read and understand scholarly articles, and images. Check out the eight state humanities councils offering these incredible, comprehensive, and award-winning state resources:
The Colorado Encyclopedia serves adults, K-12 students, researchers and educators, businesspeople, tourists, journalists, legislators, and anyone seeking reliable information about the state. The council worked with Colorado State University, History Colorado, Center of the American West, Colorado State Library, and the University Press of Colorado to produce this comprehensive and interactive resource. The Encyclopedia is organized around six themes – origins, community, ecology, political economy, and place with 25 percent of its content available at the 4th-, 8th-, and 10th-grade reading levels and including annotated resources sets for educators.
ConnecticutHistory.org is a multi-layered digital history project full of stories about the people, places, and events that make up Connecticut’s rich history. Written for a digital audience, the project conveys information through short, topical essays that also provide readers the opportunity to delve more deeply into the particular aspects of the stories that interest them. In addition to providing interactive content, ConnecticutHistory.org also links out to state primary- and secondary- source resource collections housed within libraries, museums, and heritage organizations.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia (NGE) is the nation’s first born-digital state encyclopedia. Launched in 2004 by Georgia Humanities in partnership with the University of Georgia Press, the University System of Georgia/GALILEO, and the Office of the Governor, NGE covers significant aspects of Georgia’s history and culture. Its offerings include more than 2,200 entries and 9,000 images, as well as exhibitions, educator resources, and extensive linking to Georgia’s robust digital resources. Used regularly in middle school, high school, and college classrooms, the encyclopedia has also won the 2005 and 2010 Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize for Outstanding Public Humanities Programs. The encyclopedia was completely redesigned in 2013 and was named in 2015 as one of the National Endowment for the Humanities’ top projects of the past fifty years.
Combining the archival resources, scholar-written entries, and digital media of an online encyclopedia with the editorial direction of the council’s award-winning quarterly magazine, KnowLouisiana.org is the place to go to learn about Louisiana. Feature articles are accompanied by relevant entries, linked to local events, and include recordings and primary documents for readers to fully immerse themselves in the history of Louisiana.
Every day, radio and podcast listeners and Internet users find a different story about the events and people that define the three centuries of Massachusetts history in Mass Moments, an electronic almanac of Massachusetts history. Mass Moments is used by teachers to enhance the curriculum in history, social science, English, and language arts, among other subjects. The site boasts a multimedia dimension, streaming the audio and text of every story, while also providing background essay, primary source documents, images, and links to both virtual and “real” resources. Additionally, the website has an interactive timeline and map that provides historical and geographical context.
SOUTH CAROLINA HUMANITIES
A comprehensive single-volume reference, The South Carolina Encyclopedia is the result of a six-year collaboration between the council, the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina, and the University of South Carolina Press. Intended for anyone wishing to know about the Palmetto State’s rich cultures and storied heritage, from prehistory to the present day, the print version of the encyclopedia was published in 2006 and has sold more than 20,000 copies. According to the council, it will soon be made available online, so stay tuned!
An authoritative and user-friendly resource, Encyclopedia Virginia (EV) explores the history and culture of Virginia through topical and biographical entries written by scholars, edited to be accessible to a general audience, and vigorously fact-checked. Entries are accompanied by primary documents and media assets, including images, audio and visual clips, and links to virtual tours of historic sites. The Encyclopedia is also formatted for on-the-go through its own app that allows users to explore historical points of interest in proximity to where they stand.
Launching in time for the 2016-2017 school year, Wyoming Humanities is using their popular WyoHistory.org digital resource to package content in easy-to-use toolkits for educators in secondary classrooms, community colleges, universities, museums, and informal education settings. According to the website, content will be arranged into inquiry-based topics in Wyoming history with each instructional module to include primary and secondary sources designed to engage students to think like historians. Graduate students from the University of Wyoming History or American Studies programs, under supervision from the UW College of Education Assistant Professor Mark Helmsing, are designing the materials for coherent standards-based classroom use this year.