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News Release — March 28, 2007

Introduction of "Teaching the American 20s," Online Materials for K-12 Educators

The Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin introduces "Teaching the American 20s," an online educational Web site designed specifically for K-12 educators.

The Web site features informative academic text on topics related to the 1920s and complements the Ransom Center's exhibition "The American Twenties."

Content on the site is divided into four themes, including "Big Debates," about social issues that captured the country's attention; "Small Town, Big City," about the changing concept of modern city life; "America Encounters the Modern," about new forms of creative expression; and "Defining American Culture," about what it means to be American. These themes are explored through an instructive text and illuminated by literature, art, media, music and other popular culture artifacts of the day.

Numerous viewable and downloadable primary source materials are available, including digital facsimiles of manuscripts, texts, photographs, images and audio files from the Ransom Center's collections and exhibition. The site also features a glossary, a bibliography and Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS)-based lesson plans. The online materials cover multiple disciplines and can be used for classes ranging from language arts to science to history.

With the lesson plan "The Poet's Message: 'The Colored Soldier' by Langston Hughes," students will gain a greater understanding of how poets use language to create meaning, influence thinking and become pioneers of change in American society. "The Dream Factory" lesson plan helps students understand the image of a city created in part by tourism through the study of Los Angeles postcards. "Defining American Culture: Photographic Parallels" uses photographs taken by Czech-American photographer Jno P. Trilca to assess the diversity present in 1920s Texas.

"Through downloadable facsimiles, lesson plans and audio, the twenties can really come to life in the classroom, especially when coupled with a visit to the exhibition," said Oliver Franklin, executive curator of public programs.

Teachers are already using the lesson plans in their classrooms.

"At Region XIII we found the 'Teaching the American 20s' Web site to be a valuable resource for teachers, with wonderfully unique primary source documents not usually found in materials for the 1920s," said Carol Curtiss, social studies specialist of the Region XIII Education Service Center and its Teaching American History project director.

The "Teaching the American 20s" Web site and "The American Twenties" exhibition will also provide the framework for a summer teacher institute administered by the Ransom Center and Region XIII.

The institute will provide teachers with insight into this vibrant decade and expose them to the resources available at the Ransom Center, particularly those that are Web-based, while speakers will discuss topics covered in each session.

The institute will take place at the Ransom Center on Monday, July 23 and Tuesday, July 24. Registration will start April 15 at Region XIII's e-campus, found at

The "Teaching the American 20s" project was made possible with funding from the university's UTOPIA program, an initiative designed to share the university's knowledge and resources with the public. The Region XIII Education Service Center provided guidance and financial support through a Teaching American History grant from the United States Department of Education.

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