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LOVE is a many-splendored thing.

"By conducting a dialogue with our past, we are searching how to go forward."

Milton Meltzer. Nonfiction for the Classroom, 1994.

"We derive a large portion of our identity from the groups we belong to. Our family, our school, our team, our side of town, our party, our country, our religion, our race, our language...."

Jim Carnes. Us and Them. Southern Poverty Law Center, 1995.

General Resources

Below is a list of the contents of this section. Click on any item in which you are interested for a fuller description and to reach the Internet link.

The Philadelphia Story - Site focuses on history of Philadelphia and its neighborhoods.
Philadelphia Neighborhood History - Rich collections of Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
University of Pennsylvania Library - Web pages with 1990 Philadelphia neighborhood census data.
Oral Histories of Philadelphia Neighborhoods - Histories based on inter-generational interviews.
Delaware Center for Educational Technology - Profiles two school-based oral history projects.


The Philadelphia Story
(Then type in 8088/philly.html.) This web site presents a history of Philadelphia and its neighborhoods, and provides access information for "most sources of records" for people interested in researching their Philadelphia ancestors. Click on section titled The History of Philadelphia and Its Neighborhoods.

Philadelphia Neighborhood History at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Access this site for an overview of the Society's rich collections of resources regarding "the people, social and economic forces, and institutions which have shaped Philadelphia's neighborhoods." Among those resources are: prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, maps (the earliest -- done in 1683 -- shows the beginning of neighborhoods forming along the Delaware River), city directories, insurance surveys and real estate records, information on neighborhood organizations, personal records (e.g., family papers, oral histories), documents pertaining to local businesses and industries, and numerous "first person" neighborhood histories. Note: Please be aware that the Historical Society of Pennsylvania will be temporarily closed until mid-July of 1999, but will continue to offer a "research-by-mail" program.

University of Pennsylvania Library - Philadelphia Neighborhoods
Go to this site for web pages which provide access to population, social, economic, and housing data from the 1990 Census of Population and Housing for Philadelphia neighborhoods. See also the Philadelphia Neighborhoods Bibliography for basic resources for identifying and defining current Philadelphia neighborhoods and their boundaries.

Oral Histories of Philadelphia Neighborhoods
Under the direction and editorship of Dr. Harry Silcox, students have conducted oral history interviews that have been compiled to produce histories of a number of Philadelphia neighborhoods. The following histories have been published by Brighton Press: The History of Tacony, Holmesburg, and Mayfair: An Intergenerational Study (1992); Memories Along the Wissahickon: Stories and Memories from Philadelphia's Northwest (1997); Historical Northeast Philadelphia: Stories and Memories (1994); Take A Trip Through Time: Northeast Philadelphia Revisited (1996); and Kensington History: Stories and Memories (1996). Contact the Institute for Service Learning at (215) 951 -0343 for additional information about these student oral history projects and the related publications.

Delaware Center for Educational Technology Projects
Click on Bell Atlantic - Delaware Grant Awards link. Among the K-12 projects awarded Bell Atlantic - Delaware funding were two projects involving middle school students in conducting neighborhood/community oral histories. The first, When the Past Meets The Present: Insight Through Living History, is a project at the Cab Calloway School of the Arts in the Red Clay Consolidated School District which requires students to trace their family history dating back four generations to discover from which countries their families migrated by conducting oral interviews with family members and by using the Internet. The second, Bringing Social Studies to Life: An Online Museum of Local History, is a Milford Middle School, Milford School District project in which the school community is partnering with a local historical society and museum to create a web site that reflects the history and culture of the local community. Students are conducting interviews with citizens or family members which focus on historical events, places, artifacts, or documents. Excerpts from the interviews will then be digitized so that they can be "seen" and "heard" by anyone accessing the web site.


Resources Related to a Variety of Ethnic Groups

Below is a list of the contents of this section. Click on any item in which you are interested for a fuller description and to reach the Internet link.

Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies - Multicultural library, archive, museum, and education center.
A Student's Guide - Site describes family history research guides for students.
The Portsmouth, NH Black Elders - Intergenerational African American oral history project.
Making History - Proposed project for retelling 100 year history of African American neighborhood.
Struggles of the Shadows - Video clip of Philadelphia students engaged in community history project.
Caribbean Voices - Student oral history project focusing on Latino immigrants and migrants.
Publications of N.J. Historical Commission - Books and articles on ethnic groups and immigration.


Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies
The Balch Institute is a multicultural library, archive, museum, and education center with the mission of promoting greater intergroup understanding. The Institute collects and interprets materials focusing on American ethnic, racial, and immigration experiences from an historical and contemporary perspective. The Balch Library and Archives house the largest multiethnic collection in the country, with materials related to more than 80 ethnic and racial groups, primary sources on more than 30 groups, as well as research materials on multiculturalism, immigration, and diversity. It is also home to the Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center. Student programs are a core activity of the Balch Institute, and include school group visits to the Balch, collaborative projects with other educational organizations, in-service courses and workshops for teachers, and an outreach program which brings holdings from the collections to schools. Go here for descriptions of Balch workshops on topics such as the ethnic diversity, civil rights, facts vs. opinion in a multicultural, multiracial, and multidenominational society. Go here for information on an exhibit titled Discovering America: The Peopling of Pennsylvania which traces the diversity of ethnic groups who have populated Pennsylvania from the earliest contact between Native Americans and European newcomers to the great infusion of recent immigrants from Asia and the Americas today, or contact the Balch Institute, 18 South Seventh St., Philadelphia, PA 19106. (215) 925-8090

A Student's Guide
From this site, a number of commercially available student guides in a series called Oryx American Family Tree Series can be accessed. Designed for students in grades 6-12, the series explores the creation of the American people while promoting the use and understanding of research techniques (e.g., data collection, location and evaluation of primary sources, oral history, and electronic searches). The publisher claims that the series "helps create ethnic pride, self-esteem and awareness of the ... accomplishments of each ethnic group." In addition to A Student's Guide to African American Genealogy, the series includes similar guides for British, Chinese, German, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Mexican, Native American, Polish, and Scandinavian American youth.

The Portsmouth, NH Black Elders
A web site which highlights interviews from a oral history project aimed at capturing another generation's accounts of life in the Portsmouth region as experienced by African Americans. The site also features an historical summary of information about "The First Blacks of Portsmouth (Part 1)" almost entirely derived from primary sources.

"Making History": An African American Neighborhood in the Twentieth Century
The "Making History" web site profiles a proposal for a project for using a "civicnet" setting as the focus for reconstructing and retelling the hundred year history of an African American neighborhood. As described, the project will tap census records, city directories, engineering maps, historic records related to schools and businesses, videotaped oral history interviews, and periodic neighborhood "fairs" to which people are invited to come and bring their family keepsakes and artifacts to be scanned, photographed, or documented.

Struggles of the Shadows: Philadelphia's Free African Youth
Click here to view a segment from this video which shows students from the Philadelphia School District engaged in a community history project. Video footage courtesy of Scribe Video, Inc. NOTE: You must have RealPlayer to view. To download a free copy, click here.

Caribbean Voices: Philadelphia Hispanic Oral History Project
Dr. Evelyn Bender, Director of the Media Center at Edison High School, was selected as a Library of Congress Fellow and received special training in the use of its American Memories Collection. Dr. Bender, working with other staff from Edison High School, is currently involved in planning and organizing an interdisciplinary student oral history project which will focus on Latino immigrants and migrants to Philadelphia, and compare their experiences with those of migrant Americans during the time of the Great Depression (tapping oral histories from the era included in the American Memories Collection).

Publications of the New Jersey Historical Commission
See this web site for a variety of publications on immigration and ethnicity, particularly the New Jersey Ethnic Pamphlet Series, ed. by Howard Green and New Jersey Ethnic History: A Bibliography, compiled by David Cohen. The bibliography contains over 600 entries on books, articles and theses about the history of more than forty ethnic groups in New Jersey, including Afro-Americans, Cubans, Dutch, Germans, Hungarians, Irish, Italians, Japanese, Jews, Native Americans, Portugese, Quakers, and Swedes.


Practical Tools

Below is a list of the contents of this section. Click on any item in which you are interested for a fuller description and to reach the Internet link.

Intergenerational History Workshops - Describes Institute for Service Learning training programs.
American Dreams: Storyteller - Project in which students create digital community histories.
Virtually Yours, Fairmount - Model neighborhood website.
Content Guide - Site with outline and steps for creating neighborhood web page.
Webquest - Model for developing webquests related to different ethnic communities.
Exploring Our Community - Lesson which helps elementary students learn about their community.


Intergenerational History Workshops
The Institute for Service-Learning trains elementary, middle and high school level teachers to work with their students in researching and writing the history of a community. The workshops focus on methods and means for students to use in conducting oral history interviews with senior citizens, and emphasize how the process of communications contributes to community renewal and to youth involvement in community service projects. The Institute has assisted teachers and students from schools throughout the area in producing neighborhood histories such as: The History of Tacony, Holmesburg, and Mayfair: An Intergenerational Study (1992); Memories Along the Wissahickon: Stories and Memories from Philadelphia's Northwest (1997); Historical Northeast Philadelphia: Stories and Memories (1994); Take A Trip Through Time: Northeast Philadelphia Revisited (1996); and Kensington History: Stories and Memories (1996).

American Dreams: Storyteller
Click on "Storyteller" to access a web site for a national project which aims to enable students throughout the country to create a digital narrative of their "home town" community. It features teacher guidelines for working with students to collect and analyze information about the community (including accomplishments as well as problems calling for responses); to identify the community's distinctive attributes; and to construct a web site for "presenting" their community and realistic hopes for its future in the 21st century. The site also furnishes general background materials, standards, links to data collection instruments; tips on interviewing techniques, and references to help with web page construction and evaluation. Online support mechanisms include both student and teacher Internet relay chat groups.

Virtually Yours, Fairmount
Developed by a former resident of the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, this "neighborhood history" web site can serve as a model for working with students interested in created an Internet web site related to the neighborhood in which they live. It incorporates text, graphics, and links in a well-organized format that is very easy to follow.

Content Guide: For A Neighborhood Web Page
The city of St. Louis celebrated its rich and varied neighborhood heritage by presenting the histories of its neighborhoods online. This web site provides a content outline and procedural steps for creating a neighborhood web page. It also furnishes links to a neighborhood template and an example of how a neighborhood used the template. See here also for additional examples of 27 local neighborhood histories. `

Webquest: The Portugese American
Click on Bridgewater State College. Then click on Spring 1997, and the title of the webquest. This webquest is designed to promote student learning about the Portugese American community, and can easily serve as a model for developing webquests related to other ethnic American communities.

Exploring Our Community
This site provides a lesson which gives students (grades 4-8) an opportunity to learn more about their community and to share the results of their research with another community. A related web site provides an example of the project in action.

Part I: Beginning with the Basics

Primary Sources
Oral Interviews

Return to Home Page

Part II: Tapping Teaching Resources

Family Roots
Neighborhood/Community Histories
Service Learning Projects