Unlock the Power of Historical Documents in the Classroom

In this session of the Econ Lowdown webinar series, join expert educators and librarians from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis to learn about FRASER, the digital library of the economic, banking, and business history of the United States. In video from this webinar, you will be introduced to FRASER’s education materials and more. Just in time for Census 2020: Discover specific examples of how to use FRASER materials to teach history, government, geography, economics, or social studies with historical Census data.

This webinar was held March 11, 2020.


Below is a full transcript of this webinar. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.

Jean Roark: Hello and welcome to the Econ Lowdown webinar. Today we’ll discuss FRASER, unlock the power of historical documents in the classroom. I’m Jean Roark from the Federal Reserve, and I’ll be your facilitator.

Before turning our call over to our presenters, I’ll run through a couple of call logistics. If you haven’t joined us through the webinar yet, click the link you received after registering. For the best webinar experience, use the FAQ document which can be found using the materials button in the webinar player page. I’ll highlight a few important notes for you. You can listen to the audio through your PC speakers or through your phone. If you use the phone option slides will not sync with audio unless you change one setting, and you can do this by selecting the grey gear located on the upper right corner of the slide window just above the presentation. From there, you should see a few options in the media chooser and you can select the phone option.

You can expand the size of the slides. To do this, use the maximize button in the upper right corner of the slide window located on the webinar player page. And of course if you’d like a PDF version of today’s presentation, you can access it using the materials button. We’ll be taking your questions at the end of our presentation, but please feel free to submit them at any time during our call. If you’ve joined us via webinar, just use the ask question button and we’ll get your questions cued up for our presenters today.

All right. I’m going to turn to slide two and run through our disclaimer real quick. All right. The views expressed in this presentation do not necessarily reflect official positions of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis or the Federal Reserve system.

And with that out of the way, I’m going to turn our call over to Kris Bertelsen.

Kris Bertelsen: Okay. Thank you, Jean. I’m Kris Bertelsen. I’m with the Little Rock branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis and do economic education and financial literacy education here for the bank. And today I will be introducing our speakers for today’s webinar. And I’m going to just read a brief introduction of both of those folks in the order that they present. But before I do that, I would like to, first of all, thank you for joining us here on the webinar, and also thank you for your work with students. We really appreciate all you do for your students.

Our first speaker today will be Jona Whipple. She is a senior digital projects librarian with the St. Louis Fed. She focuses on the management and execution of digitization projects for FRASER. That’s the website we’ll be talking about today. The library of U.S. economic financial and banking history documents that FRASER is the repository for that. Her responsibilities include selection arrangement, description of materials, overseeing the digitization operations and coordinating partnerships with external stakeholders. She’ll kick us off here today.

Genevieve Podleski is our senior analyst in research information services. Genevieve is a metadata and outreach specialist who joined the Federal Reserve Bank in 2012. She collaborates with staff across the research division to improve the visibility, usability and educational value of our websites. Before joining the Fed, Genevieve worked in higher education public affairs.

And finally, Eva Johnston is a senior economic education specialist on my team. She and I work together. Eva’s an experienced educator specializing in the intersection of economics and history. As part of our team, Eva creates classroom lessons, toolkits and activities that incorporate the wealth of primary and secondary source documents found in the St. Louis Fed’s FRASER digital library. Before joining the Federal Reserve Bank, Eva taught high school history and economics in the St. Louis area for 28 years. And I am grateful that these three folks have joined us here today, and we’ll turn things over to Jean to get the webinar started.

Jean Roark: Thank you so much, Kris. And we are going to launch our first polling question and get things rolling here. So please grab your mouse and I’m going to read that question aloud for you. The question is which grade level do you currently teach? So you have a couple of options there. Your options are middle school, high school, college or other. So I’m going to just stall for a couple of seconds and let you respond at your leisure. But go ahead and select one of those options for which grade level you currently teach.

All right. I am going to go ahead and stop that poll. And let’s go ahead and show those results. All right. It looks like all of our participants are middle school teachers, so that is exciting. What a coincidence? I’m going to go ahead and stop showing those results and get us back to the right slide. And let’s see, once we are on slide six.

All right. And now I’m going to turn it over to Jona.

Jona Whipple: Okay. Thanks. Hi, everyone. Thanks for listening today. I wanted to start by talking to you a bit about FRASER. FRASER is a digital library that brings together resources related to banking, finance, and economic history from all around the United States. For ease of reference, we categorize our materials into four primary content areas, which you can see the red arrow very helpfully pointing out there on the left. Those are economic data, Federal Reserve archives in education.

Economic data provides access to statistical releases and data publications held by FRASER. Federal Reserve is where you can find our collections of historical documents related to the Federal Reserve. The archive section is where you’ll be able to browse all of our collections and primary sources from institutions like the Department of Labor, the U.S. Treasury and the Fed about the nation’s economic history. We have in here the papers of the Women’s Bureau, a collection of the Friedman Bank, just a lot of really cool things here.

And the education section contains all of our educational materials. It’s a site feature that is unique to FRASER, and we’ll talk about that more in a moment. You can easily search by looking in these sections and browsing, but just like a library you can also search FRASER by title, subject and author, which you can see up there on the right.

And we’ll go to the next slide. So also, just like any other library, there are a lot of different kinds of people that come to FRASER. With the education page, what we’ve tried to do is make it easier to find teaching materials that are relevant to you. So you can see here we’ve highlighted the teacher’s section, which shows you our materials for grades six to 12. Because of the complex primary and secondary resources, we’re using in these lessons, these selected educational materials are aimed at sixth grade and higher. If you’re looking for pre-K through fifth grade, you can find personal finance history and economic lessons on the St. Louis Fed website and on Econ Lowdown. You’ll see links to both of those resources on the education page shown here. And we’ll walk through a little bit more of how to use this page later.

Can we change the slide? Thank you. And now for a little bit of background on FRASER. It was originally developed in 2004 when there were actually very few digital libraries available on the web. It was developed as kind of an adjunct to another popular resource and a front runner in the economic information world, FRED, which is an economic data aggregator. For the past 15 years the FRASER team has worked really hard to collect and provide public access to documents and data in FRASER, and much of our day-to-day work involves actively curating collections so that they’re findable in the digital research environment.

Next slide. Something to note about FRASER is that unlike lots of other libraries and other online collections like the Library of Congress, for instance, you can’t actually visit FRASER. FRASER is only online, and for the most part is not a physical collection. In that online space we have all of these kinds of things. We have Federal Reserve System and bank publications, all of those wonderful archival collections I mentioned earlier, congressional documents, publications from government agencies, and of course education materials.

Next slide. So what you see here is a basic map of how our relationships drive content creation and acquisition. From FRASER’s point of view, we need to collect materials that can be used as the basis for lessons, and we strive to make sure that lessons written separately have appropriate supporting material in the library, so either we find it in our collections or we designate something that we need to bring in. But we also go directly to the public. We need to collect materials that are useful to our readers, patrons and students, and we need to make them connect to what’s in the library. Our curriculum developers benefit from being able to use us as a conduit for public interest in library materials, which can then spark ideas for new lessons to meet a specific need.

And then outside of this discussion is the part of this triangle; the red relationship arrow that FRASER isn’t usually active in. The connection between the public and the curriculum developers. This is a lot of face-to-face work, like teacher training and professional development, but the library can benefit from promotion of our resources in those interactions. And we’re actually in that red space right now, so thank you for taking part in this webinar today.

Next slide. As a natural outgrowth of this relationship between FRASER and econ ed teams, we built a new page within FRASER that allows us to present the econ ed materials that are appropriate for a FRASER audience, and this week are displayed for them in such a way that makes them more usable for both teachers and students. We’ve also built this page to make it easier for everyone to find related research materials for project-based learning. Education materials, as we saw earlier, have a grade level. They also have an overview and key topics to help teachers figure out whether they’re a good fit for their curriculum.

Next. So when we say, “Teach,” what are we, the library, helping to teach and how? Our lessons are full curriculum materials and they are now within the digital library itself. With our inside FRASER blog, we also offer researched, hyperlinked, footnoted blog posts on topics such as women’s economic history, African American financial history, and Federal Reserve policy. We curate our content, so we show you the important stuff and we show you how it fits together. With our social media, it’s really easy to look at our Twitter feed and pick up quick facts, and then make connections to today’s events in economic history. And there are always related links from our curriculum materials back to primary sources in FRASER’s collections.

Next. So when we collect, whether or not we do so in response to interest from the public or our education colleagues, we do that collection with intention. What’s on this slide is basically a paraphrase of our collection development policy. So if you think back to the cycle illustration from earlier, when we start from the teach section we go out in search of new materials, and the answers to some of these questions may be easier. When we start with the collect part of the cycle, we can explore new ways to teach with it as well.

Jean Roark: Can we pause for a second?

Jona Whipple: Sure.

Jean Roark: We had a question from the audience about advancing slides. And we are currently on slide 11 and we are seeing everything just fine, so please follow up with a specific question about what about advancing the slides you don’t have.

I’ll mention that real quick. You may have to refresh your window. Sometimes that happens. You might have to either use F5 to refresh or just close out the window and reopen it. And if you are listening via the phone, you want to make sure you select that grey gear and in the media chooser select the phone option, so that will be helpful. It transitions the slides more quickly if you’re listening to the audio through the phone.

Back to you, Jona.

Jona Whipple: Okay. Thank you. We can go on to slide 14.

Jean Roark: Okay.

Jona Whipple: So finally, when we say we’re connecting, we’re finding out directly or indirectly what it is that people want. Though our reference questions may not be direct requests from materials to be added to FRASER, they give us a sense of what people are coming to FRASER to research. That can then lead back to creation of new education resources. We look at our research analytics to show us what things are regularly used, such as the budget of the United States, economic data publications, and certain legislations. The response to our social media gives us insight into what people are responding to and finding interesting in our collections. We also look to which FRASER resources are being used to link to in news articles. This answers the question of how do our historical resources connect to current events. And of course, we also look at what scholarly publications site FRASER.

And that’s all I have for you. Thank you for listening. I’ll pass it on to Genevieve.

Genevieve Podleski: All right. Thank you very much. As I was introduced earlier and as Jona just said, I’m Genevieve Podleski. I am trained as a librarian, and now I do a lot of other things as well, but I’m really passionate about this topic today, so I’m really excited to be a part of this webinar.

You can go ahead and go to the next slide. What I’m going to do is I’m going to give you a brief overview of what we think we can offer you with FRASER collections that come from the Census Bureau and just a little bit of using the Census 2020 to connect to historical topics throughout the history curriculum.

So in case you forgot, it is a census year, and you and your students should start to see your official census forms soon. You can go to 2020census.gov, that’s 2-0-2-0, for more information on this year’s census.

If you’re already teaching the census right now or if you’re planning to, you probably already know that it’s a really important way for students to get hooked into a better understanding of U.S. public policy and how your students are represented in the decisions that our policymakers make. One of the coolest things about Census, I think, is that unlike so much of the other economic and demographic data we have, Census information, it goes all the way back to the founding of the U.S. It’s in article one of the Constitution, in case you’re not a civic teacher and you don’t remember that from your high school education. But the important thing about that is no matter what period of U.S. history that you’re at in your semester right now, or if you’re in a civics or government or even a current events unit, there’s probably a Census connection to be made.

Next slide. Very briefly I just want to talk about some of the Census classroom resources that are not on FRASER. Census has some really cool classroom tools like the Statistics in Schools Program that’s linked to this slide, the Population Clock for both U.S. and world population, and then data tools where you and your students can look up all kinds of relevant U.S. data from the languages that people speak at home to the total amount of wages that Americans earn in a year. The last data is about six and a half billion dollars, by the way. But going back to the history piece of this, I want to talk briefly about historical data.

So next slide. This is a really great infographic that’s actually produced by the Census Department itself. One of the issues with historical economic data, which is really my passion, is that what we measure changes, and the population and how we measure it is just part of that. So this is a really great tool from the Census Bureau that looks at the rates and ethnicity categories that are asked about in the decennial censuses going back to the very first one. So I recognize this slide is pretty small. I do encourage you to go to this link and look at the original, because it is an interactive visualization. And this can be a great tool for giving some context to ethnic issues in various historical periods and related to specific events that you may already be teaching, like the Chinese Exclusion Act or the Immigration Act of 1924. It’s really all there in the enumeration. Do we have a question? Okay. Great.

I do also want to give a shout out to another amazing resource that’s free, and online, and that can provide some good context for this interactive, and also to our FRASER primary sources from Census, and that’s IPUMS, I-P-U-M-S, which you can Google. And that is a major population research center at the University of Minnesota that, among other things, has digitized the published Census reports and the original Census enumeration form. So what people were actually filling out or the Census takers were filling out on their behalf. So if your students are going to dig into one of the decennial censuses, you can head to IPUMS to get the original forms that Americans would have been filling out in that year.

Next slide. And then very briefly I do want to discuss why FRASER has Census stats at all. While we think of the Census Bureau mostly when we think about the decennial census and population, the Census does also work regularly to gather material that’s used to make vital policy decisions, including a lot of economic data and data used for economic policies. There’s a wealth of Census information and FRASER’s big brother Fred, which Jona mentioned. And again, there is stuff that you and your students can dig into for research projects, for homework, or even class discussion questions, and really give a chance to figure out how the Federal Government understands their lives.

This is one of my favorite datasets. This is a graph of disconnected youth. That’s 16 to 19 year olds who are not enrolled in school, who don’t have a job, and who aren’t looking for a job. So they are disconnected from the economy. So you can have a talk with your students about what does that mean, who are those students, who are those teenagers that I guess aren’t students, and where they fit into the economy. So just a reminder that Census gathers economic and demographic data every year, every month, and there’s almost always going to be something relevant to what you’re working on in class.

Next slide. So now that you understand a little bit better why the Census Bureau’s relevant for economics and economic history, I just want to briefly point out that all of the Census historical material in FRASER is available from the link on this slide. And once you get to that Bureau of the Census page, you can use the “Search this Author” function, that little box right there, to search within all of the documents that are by or about the Census if you have a specific topic or a data point that you want to go looking for. And I think Jona mentioned this in passing, but I also want to say here that you can e-mail us with questions about finding information or help with building a research assignment, and we’re more than happy to help out because we’re librarians. It’s kind of what we do.

Next slide. Okay. So that was a long intro to the why’s and wherefore, so let’s talk a little bit about the what. What consensus information does FRASER actually have? So first of all, and one of the most acceptable things that we have are the statistical atlas series. These are very rich visualizations of the decennial Census data from each of the Censuses of 1870 to 1920 from 1970 and 2000. They were not produced in the intervening decades. We also have the statistical abstract, which is pretty obscure. I had definitely not heard of it before I came to the FRASER team. It is an annual authoritative and comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political and economic organization of the United States. And FRASER has the annual issues from the first issue covering 1878 through 1950. And then if you want to look at more recent years, for the time being you can find that on census.gov for the years 1951 through the last issue in 2010. So there are also a number of one auth economic data publications and special reports. And I’m going to nerd-out here so I hope you’ll forgive me. One of my absolute favorite reference works, which is “The Historical Statistics of the United States: Colonial Times to 1957 and then to 1970.”

So if we can go to the next slide, talk a little bit about that briefly. So “The Historical Statistics” books, which are literally over 1,000 pages long each, have just an immense wealth of information on anything that you could think of that the Census might touch, and for decades, and decades, and decades, because the Census goes so far back. The dataset pictured here, which is tea imported from England by American colonies, 1761 to 1775, isn’t the oldest dataset in the book. I think that actually goes back another century. But I think that if you’re teaching the American Revolution, it’s nice to be able to look at some data about how much tea we’re really talking about when we talk about taxation of tea in the colonies. And because the Census Bureau has taken its sort of counting the country duty so seriously, there’s both data that’s produced by the Census in these volumes, and other government agencies like the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but also just relevant, reliable historical information from other reputable sources, which is all cross referenced and sourced, so you don’t have to track down a bunch of economics and sociology and demography papers to try to get this information that’s been compiled by researchers. It’s all in this nice, tidy reference work.

So usually if the source of the data is a secondary source like this one, it will have a brief note about what the primary source is that was used to build that dataset. So if you’re a little concerned about the primary, secondary data issue, that will usually be documented in those notes.

So can we go to the next slide and look at something a little prettier than graphs and data? [Cut in recording]… location data and a very different visualization style between the 19th century and the turn of the 21st. And once you’ve found our Census information on FRASER, you can look not only at a snapshot of a given period for whatever you’re teaching, but by comparing things you can look at how the same kinds of [unintelligible 00:24:46] are prevented overtime. I really like this particular example. On the left you have the population growth of the country in its first century, and on the right you have essentially the same data and the map in such of the statistical abstract page on the left is very tiny, but it is mapping the center of population of the United States as it moves from eastern Maryland in 1790 to central Ohio in 1890. And then you can look at the Census atlas on the right and another century of data gets you more movement of that center population, and we get all the way to central Missouri in 2000.

So next slide, please. Those are just a couple of examples of the kinds of data that you can find in the statistical atlases and the abstracts. So in case you haven’t really dug into Census data before, there’s information on population; so where and what people are settling, race and ethnicity, mortality. There’s physical maps; forests, and farmlands, and mines. There’s obviously a political differentiation. So as we move through the eras of territories in the continuous United States into states everywhere. And then also some unexpected data about things like religion, occupation, educational attainment and economic data like manufacturing and agriculture. So there’s really an amazing wealth of information there, which is why I’ve started out by giving you the, “Hey, you can search within this,” because if you just start browsing you will tend to get sucked in like we do. So that’s a lot, a lot of information. Let me go ahead and transition to Eva who can narrow it back down a little bit for you and talk about specific classroom techniques and lessons using some of this data.

Eva Johnston: Well thank you, Genevieve. Hello, everyone. Get your mouse ready, because now we have another polling question for you. And the question is, have you heard of and/or used our Barbie in the Labor Force lesson? It’s tough. It’s yes or no. Barbie in the Labor Force.

Genevieve Podleski: And while we’re answering that super complicated question, Jean, since we haven’t worked with this before, we had a question about whether or not we’ll be sending a copy of the presentation slides to participants so that they’ll have the links that I was talking about?

Jean Roark: I know that the archive gets posted onto the website. We may need to ask Kris, because I’m not sure if the handout gets posted also.

Genevieve Podleski: If nothing else, you can certainly e-mail Fraser@stlouisfed.org and we’d be happy to send you all of the links that we’ve posted today.

Eva Johnston: Okay. Do we have any answers to our poll question, Jean?

Jean Roark: We do. Okay.

Eva Johnston: Oh, so it’s new. Okay. If I was back in the classroom I’d say this is a dog day. You get to learn something new today. Sorry you don’t have the visual of this great little, cute little Jack Russell Terrier sitting at a computer, and the phrase above it says, “Learn something new every day.” And so with that, since we’re in a virtual classroom here, I’d like to go to the next slide please and reference back to what Jona mentioned. If you had clicked on the education tab at the top of the fraser.stlouisfed.org page. Because if you go here, you’d have the opportunity then to select teacher, and the level, and the subject, and see lots of other really good information. Is everybody on the same page here? Okay. Excellent.

Now, many of the lessons that we have fit more than one grand band, and so they will be listed in every level that they’re appropriate. So if you’re flipping back and forth between middle school and high school, don’t be alarmed if you see some of the same lessons listed in both places, because they fit standards in both and that’s why they’re listed there. And as good educators, you know that you often go and you take, and you pull things that you want to use, and adapt as needed.

To simplify what you’re looking for in the history area, it’s divided into eras, as you can see here. If you look closely in that blue area in the middle, you can see that Barney is in the modern era. And then if you go over to the right, and if you were to click on that green part that says, “View,” it would take you directly to the PDF of the lesson. If you look right now in that lower righthand corner of the slide, you can see where it says to download a PDF of the lesson. So that would be an easy place for you to go ahead and you decided, “Yes, I previewed it. I want a copy of this for myself.” You can download it then and have it on your computer. And there’s also a place for you to go ahead and click on and find a whiteboard application, because they’re already done. So if you have a smart board, we already have premade for you smart board ready lesson teaches, and there’s also the PowerPoint slides that accompany this lesson.

Next slide, please. Now, say you were in that view section, and you clicked on it, and you scrolled down to the lesson, you would all of a sudden see, when you get down to some of the visuals, you would see what you see on this slide as a beautiful bright pink Barbie cards. And what these are, part of the lesson that are handouts that the students use with the Barbie’s career timeline. It’s a part of the lesson. What students do is they place the Barbie careers on the decades and the timeline. And I have a special offer for you, because I was cleaning out our storage closet, and the special offer is this. Is that if you would like to have some premade decks for these Barbie flashcards that you could use, e-mail me at the end and I will send you up to four sets that you can use with your students and have them work in groups. So let me know if you would like to have your own sets of the Barbie flashcards.

Let’s look at the next slide, please. One of the things that’s special as a bonus by looking this up and using it in FRASER is that as the librarians have told you, the FRASER education lessons have related primary and secondary source links that are already curated for you by our FRASER librarian team. So if you’re looking for project-based learning sources, these are a great place to start.

Next slide, please. This slide is one of the PowerPoint deck that’s available to you that you could show your students. And if you look closely, you can see that it’s an excerpt from the 1925 U.S. Bureau of the Census bulletin. And it’s showing women in the labor force, which is pulled from FRASER. If you look closely at the link at the bottom, it shows where you can download the entire chart and even more information if you were interested in finding more. The lesson procedures provide questions that you can use with your students and the answers that you could check so that your students can learn more from looking at the table.

If you look at the next slide, please. This particular graph of the labor force participation is also available as part of the PowerPoint deck and it’s part of the whiteboard in the Barbie lesson. So the labor force. It’s much more than people with jobs. It’s measuring the total number of workers, both employed and unemployed. And the unemployed, you are actively seeking work still count as part of the labor force. Those who aren’t seeking work don’t count as part of the labor force. And so what’s fun and good is to help students understand who’s counted and who’s not, and look at how this has changed overtime, and that’s what’s really interesting in looking at this graph. Because if you look closely you can see that it shows from 1920 up through 1970. And it has a distinction between men and women in the labor force. So this slide gives students a chance to practice their chart reading skills necessary for most all EOC’s and to also look for trends.

Next slide, please. Here is a more modern graph of women participation in the civilian labor force. This graph was made in FRED, FRASER’s big brother, as has been mentioned earlier today by both Jona and Genevieve. And FRED, as a data aggregator, has over 670,000 data series from 90 different sources. And the data deck get here at the St. Louis Fed. This wrap of data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics charts the increase of women in the labor force from 1970 to 2020. This lesson allows students to work with data and practice viewing trends and seeing what it means.

Next slide, please. One of the fun things about digging into FRASER is that you can use the data and find some really, what I would consider, gems. If we look at this particular chart from the Bureau of the Census, it gives the occupation reports, and students can look at that and see what were the ten largest occupations of women between 1900 and 1950. This chart could be a springboard for questions. For example, you could look at it and ask students, “Why do you think telephone operators are no longer on the list?” And your students today may not even know what a telephone operator is. So you decide what you’re willing to and what you’d like to ask.

The Barbie in the Labor Force lesson provides you with primary sourced documents and activities you can use with your students, like the hands-on decision-making exercise of placing the Barbie career cards on the timeline. So if you haven’t used this lesson, please check it out. And don’t forget to e-mail me if you’d like to have some of those decks of cards. I know teachers have used this and laminated the cards, and it’s easy to use them over and over again.

Let’s go to the next slide, please. If you teach the Great Migration like I used to when I was a U.S. history teacher, I encourage you to take a look at this lesson. After reading, “Warmth of Other Suns,” by Isabel Wilkerson, I began digging in FRASER to see what materials we have available that teachers might use to teach the Great Migration. With the help of FRASER librarians, I found extensive case studies that were compiled by the Department of Labors Division of Negro Economics. I didn’t know that even existed before I came to work here. These case studies were compiled by the staff that were African American sociologists. And I also found case studies in Emmet Scott’s book, “Negro Migration During the War.” That book is digitized and it’s also available on FRASER. The map that’s on this graph is actually taken from Scott’s book. So in looking at all this data, I found that the largest number of African Americans moved north between 1916 and 1917. And as you know, if you taught the Great Migration, it is considered a very wide swath of time. And so this led me to come up with a compelling question, why did African Americans migrate to the north in unprecedented numbers in 1916 and 1917?

Next slide, please. The answer to this compelling question – well, students can figure it out by taking on one of six perspectives and reading documents as if they were members of that group. The groups are three from the north and three from the south, and the seven groups are migrants, seven planters, and small southern farmers. The northern groups are industrialists, immigrant workers and agents. Students then answer questions, and compile on a large butcher paper, and make their perspective pages, and then they do a gallery walk and discuss the six different perspectives.

Next slide, please. One thing I do want to point out as a word of caution, that these documents use period language, which means it’s the language of the time. And you might want to preview some of the documents. Now, on the previous page it listed the links, and I will tell you, unless you want to get in trouble with your copy centers, it’s not intended for you to copy off those sections. It’s meant for you to put it in like a Google Doc folder and have your students access it digitally, because there are numerous pages for each one of the groups. So I need to give that preface. But the information that the students have in each one of the six perspectives are all gleaned from the survey data. And the surveys were conducted and written by college educated African American men. And on this particular slide it quotes W.E.B. Du Bois, and he actually was hired by the Department of Labor to conduct surveys, but he did surveys prior to the Great Migration, and his survey data is not included in this particular document, but we do have other works of his that can be found in FRASER. And if you’re doing anything and you’re looking for specific documents by W.E.B Du Bois, please just search his name and FRASER as the author, and you’ll be able to find him very easily.

Please go to the next slide. So you might wonder how is this lesson different? As a former U.S. history teacher and a teacher who got to teach economics, in reading these documents I found that all the sudden economic concepts just popped out at me and I realized this was an excellent opportunity to take something that’s a U.S. history lesson and actually be able to use it and increase cross-curricular understanding. History is replete with economic occurrences, and helping your students understand that there was a shortage of workers in the north and a surplus of workers in the south is one of the reasons why during 1916 and 1917 so many people chose to migrate to the north will increase their understanding of both history and economics. And there’s a lot more to it. I’m not going to give the whole thing away. You’ll have to check out the lesson.

Next slide, please. And we have another polling question. Do any of you teach U.S. government? The answer is yes or no.

Jean Roark: So Eva, just so you know, I can see the participant view that the question box has popped up, so I’m not sure how much time you’re going to give them, but we should also be able to see the results as they come in.

Eva Johnston: Excellent. Thank you, Jean.

Jean Roark: Just taking a couple of seconds for people to grab that mouse. Okay. Now they’re coming in.

Eva Johnston: All right.

Jean Roark: Sorry. Give them another couple of seconds.

Eva Johnston: When we plan these, we don’t have a good take on who it is, and so that’s why we’re asking you. So we appreciate the feedback.

Jean Roark: And they can respond yes or no, even if you aren’t a U.S. government teacher, right?

Eva Johnston: That’s right.

Jean Roark: I see more coming in.

Eva Johnston: Good. Thank you. And the results are? All right. No government teachers. All right. Well, that helps, because that means I won’t give the government strand of this next section.

If we go to the next part, please. I’d like to share with you our toolkit for historical inquiries that uses charts. This particular chart is an exploding pie chart. It’s taken from “A Citizen’s Guide to the Budget,” which was written using documents from 1998, which is way before many of your times, probably. But in this particular document, it’s a good example of charts. And what you’ll find within the whole historical inquiry with charts is a chance to help your students get comfortable with and be better at reading charts.

Let’s go to the next slide, please. Now, we have an entire toolkit, and this is an overview of showing you what’s in the toolkit. So the purpose of the whole toolkit is to help students identify different types of charts, to better understand them, to understand what the author is trying to convey, and to practice using historical inquiry questions so they can think critically and practice their reasoning skills.

Let’s go to the next slide, please. All the lessons and activities we create are aligned to national standards, and this is just a sample of the teacher’s standards that this toolkit covers.

Next slide, please. And this is the sample of the historical inquiry questions for students to use when they’re thinking about the charts. So as a teacher, you can pick and choose which ones to assign, or you can just use a sample. Whatever works. But one of the things that I think is a value here is that these questions don’t just apply to the charts that we have here. The purpose and idea is for your students to internalize, and every time they see a chart, whether it’s in an online article or it’s in a magazine or in their textbook, that they’ll start thinking about these particular things. Why was this made? What’s the author trying to convey? What is the bias in this? And if they will continually do that it will be very useful.

Next slide, please. When we talk about chart terms or thinking about charts, we really mean it could be a table, it could be a diagram, it could be a map, it could be a graph. Anything that’s a visual. So does the visual corroborate? Does it enhance the surrounding text? Do the terms help students make some kind of sense out of the graph? And we’re trying to build competence with regular use.

Next slide, please. One of the things in the toolkit is this glossary of chart terms. Currently we have about 50 in the glossary and we’re happy to add more. So if you just e-mail us, the FRASER team, we’d be happy to include more.

Going to the next slide. We talk about types of charts. There are so many different ways to visualize data. The same type of chart just doesn’t fit for all situations. For example, a popular type of chart is the pie graph. And as we’ll see in the next slide, please, pie graphs just are not always good. Why would statisticians not consider a pie chart to be the best way to display data? Well, look at the example on the right. And if you see that, you can see why many statisticians love pie charts. There’s just too many slices, it’s difficult to see and figure out what they’re trying to convey. It’s very difficult to determine and read the information, so teaching students when it’s okay to use a pie graph and when it’s not is valuable for everyone.

Let’s look at the next slide, please. This is an example of a hub and spoke chart. It’s very complex. This one is a diagram of interlocking directorates.

Next slide, please. And here is an example of an infographic, and it’s taken from “The 75 Years of American Finance.” It’s a hand drawn timeline that was created in 1936. It begins in 1861 and it goes through 1935 with the years of 1936 and ’38 added on in 1938. This has a complete activity to go with it, and each page is something that could be very useful if you’re teaching U.S. history, because it’s just fascinating information. I encourage you to check it out. It’s in FRASER education.

If you go to the next slide, please. We’ve gone full circle and it brings us back to the Census. We have a series of short activities that you can use “The Statistical Atlas of 1870.” It is a beautiful book that we have digitized and you can display it in your classroom via your big screen. As Genevieve mentioned earlier, the United States for the first-time visualized data collected in the 1870 Census.

We would like to thank you very much for participating today. We appreciate that you logged in and spent time with us. If you have any questions, we would be happy to address them at this time.

Jean Roark: All right. Thank you, Eva. And thank you to our presenters. Now is your chance to submit your questions. You can use the ask question button in the webinar player page and we’ll get them cued up.

We do have a couple that have come in.

Genevieve Podleski: Since they’re on very similar topics, I’ll go ahead and address them both at once. So is there historical information on how the 1918 flu pandemic effected the economy? That question is a little easier for us to answer, but anything talking about the future – we’re historians. We’re not psychics, sadly. We’d probably make more money that way. So there’s a number of ways to get to what you’re looking for. And without a live demo of FRASER, this will be a little bit trickier. But the first thing I’m going to recommend that you do is go to FRASER and look for influenza. So there are a number of speeches that cover it, there’s a number of articles. There’s an article that came from the Richmond Fed’s “Monthly Economic Focus” magazine that covers the economics of the Spanish flu, as it’s called. “The Statistical Atlas of 1920” actually has a comparative population chart showing increase or decrease in total population by counties between 1910 and 1920. That could be a really interesting primary source for you. We have “The Business Newspaper and the Commercial and Financial Chronicle.” And we have that as a weekly newspaper that we have digitized, and we have pretty much the full run from 1865 to 1963. So that’s an incredible primary source that you can use to look up just about any topic you can think of from that century.

The other thing I would recommend for – so look for influenza. Also look for flu and pandemic when you’re searching. And one of the places I would look for more recent sort of public health outbreaks is – and this is going to sound strange – but is the meeting minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee. I know you’re laughing. But part of what the FOMC does in setting the economic policy, the monetary policy of the country, is it talks about what is affecting the economy right now. And so you can find information about the SARS outbreak, about previous flu outbreaks, and it’s just really a wealth of information. And the meeting minutes are fairly chatty, so you’ll get a transcript that shows you how policymakers are talking about these things as they’re happening. So I definitely recommend that. It’s pretty wonky, it’s pretty nerdy, but I figure we’re history teachers, so it’s okay. So hopefully that will get you started, and I do recommend that you reach out to us by e-mail if you’d like some more help finding some information that you can use with your students.

Jean Roark: Can you give that e-mail address again?

Genevieve Podleski: Sure. It’s FRASER, F-R-A-S-E-R, @stlouisfed.org. And it is on the FRASER website, so if you go to fraser.stlouisfed.org, there’s a contact us and you can contact us through our forum. It’s pretty easy. And generally either Jona or I will be the ones answering your questions, so you will get to a real person. A real librarian at that. So exciting.

Jean Roark: Thank you for that, Genevieve.

Genevieve Podleski: You’re very welcome.

Jean Roark: We have had a couple of other questions come in, so I’ll just read those aloud. Do you have any tools that will assist students who are writing research papers?

Jona Whipple: Yes. Actually, FRASER is compatible with Zotero Citation Manager. Its design makes it really easy to save and share our primary and secondary sources to your Zotero library where everything will be formatted correctly.

Genevieve Podleski: There’s a suggested citation at the bottom of every resource page, so if you’re reading something you can actually scroll down and copy and paste. They are automatically generated by the software that FRASER’s built on. So encourage your students to use a critical eye with those citations if you are sticklers for formatting.

Jean Roark: All right. Thank you for that. The next question. Do you have any lessons on the Great Depression?

Eva Johnston: Yes. The St. Louis Fed has just a plethora of materials on the Great Depression, online materials, and there are also print lessons. And Genevieve and I are in the process of actually redoing some of the Great Depression lessons and more FRASER primary source data in them. So stay tuned and look for new and revised versions, but there’s lots of material out there. And I encourage you to go out there and look. There’s a wonderful essay written by one of our economists who’s also an economic historian, Dave Wheelock, and he’s condensed it down. It’s about two pages and it’s included as part of the lesson. There’s four pages. All right. But for him that’s short. And it’s really good about touching all the facets of the causes of the Great Depression.

Jean Roark: All right. Thank you for that. We have one more question, but I’ll just remind our participants, you can submit your question by just using that ask question button if you have a burning question you’d like to ask these ladies.

And the last question we have is thanks for sharing the Census information. Do you have a favorite chart from “The Atlas of 1870?”

Genevieve Podleski: Boy, do I? The Census of 1870, I will fully admit, is not one of my favorite things to geek out about. I love it. It’s super cool, but probably the one that is the most interesting to that. In the section of that book that covers vital statistics, there is a map of predominating sex as of the 1870 Census. So why that’s interesting is it shows a significant tilt towards more women in the population percentage-wise in the postbellum south. It’s sort of balanced in the union north, and then more men along the border of the United States at that point when you’re hitting the territories. So you can really see an interesting snapshot of what’s happening socially in the United States at that point in the years just after the Civil War.

All right. And I could go on for like half an hour, but I’m not going to. So thank you so much to everyone who joined us.

Jean Roark: Yes. Thank you for that, Genevieve. I’m going to turn it over to Kris briefly for some closing remarks, and then we’ll close it out with a survey after that. Kris, it’s all yours.

Kris Bertelsen: Okay. Thank you very much, Jean and presenters. I appreciate it. Just a quick note here to save some dates. I’d like to mention two upcoming webinars. First of all, April 22nd we will be holding an ECONnections webinar. It’s our other webinar series with two other Federal Reserve Banks, Philadelphia and Cleveland. And that will be other historical resources and materials to teach economics and history classes. The other date I’d like to mention as our next Econ Lowdown webinar, which will be on October 21st where we will feature the new monetary policy ample reserves approach that the Federal Reserve System has taken for conducting monetary policy.

And I don’t even have a date for this one yet, but we are going to have one more webinar here shortly on distanced learning. Resources for distanced learning. And that will be an Econ Lowdown webinar in the next six to eight weeks, so please check our events listing on the St. Louis Fed website, stlouisfed.org, Econ Ed at the St. Louis Fed, and then click events and you’ll be able to see when that one is listed.

So thank you very much, Jean. Thank you everyone for joining.

Jean Roark: All right. Thanks so much for that, Kris. And I want to echo your appreciation for our presenters. Thanks so much for being here and sharing your expertise, and knowledge and energy. It’s been really delightful to have you here. And I also want to thank our participants for attending. You should see a survey come available if you joined us in the webinar. Everyone will also receive a survey link via e-mail. You only need to fill it out once, but we definitely want to hear feedback on how things went today. Thank you again for joining us.

This concludes today’s Federal Reserve Econ Lowdown webinar. Enjoy the rest of your day.


If you have difficulty accessing this content due to a disability, please contact us at 314-444-4662 or economiceducation@stls.frb.org.

Find More Economics and Personal Finance Resources

Education Level: 9-12 College
Subjects: Economics Geography Civics/Government History
Concepts: Federal Reserve System-structure Great Depression
Resource Types: Webinar
Languages: English
Back to Top