Photographs as primary sources for historical research and teaching in education: the Albert W. Achterberg Photographic Collection
MetadataShow full item record
Photographs contain a wealth of information which may be used effectively in historical research. Visual images may be used as evidence, for illustration, for comparison and contrast, and for analytical purposes. Somewhat perplexing is the relatively minimal use of photographs as primary sources in historical inquiry concerning schooling. Many visual clues exist which can help to explain the activities, methods, resources and quality of schooling, and the people involved in schooling, in selected locations. Visual clues may be coordinated with text and with other artifacts to present a more complete picture of schooling in a specific time and place than text alone can provide. Photographs provide opportunities to compare systems of schooling and to engage in longitudinal analysis of a single school system. They can be useful in helping to investigate elements of schooling that may have elevated selected school systems to exemplary levels. The presence of a large collection of educationally related photographs reveals opportunities for utilization which are not present with individual photographs or small groups of photographs. The potential uses of photographs as primary sources for inquiry are not limited to professional historians, but may be taught to, and used by students, as well. This study shows benefits and possibilities of utilizing photographic images as primary sources in historical research in education, and in teaching historical research methods, through the use of examples contained in the Albert W. Achterberg Collection of photographs. The collection was developed during the period of 1940-1999 over an 8,000 square mile area in south-central Nebraska and features a school system in the town of Holdrege, Nebraska.