If you’ve got an American history student in your homeschool, take a look at some of the new independent projects you can join through the Library of Congress.
Tuesday is our regular Books & Libraries Day in the River Houses when we recommend book-related and library-related resources you can browse, save, and share with your students. The wonderful “By the People” program at the Library of Congress invites members of the public (like you and your homeschool students) to help document and transcribe important items in the Library’s collections. (It’s one of our recommended Lunar Society programs for homeschoolers.) A new project to document the works of America’s premier landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903), has just come online:
Olmsted is often called the father of landscape architecture in the United States, and he and his many associates designed some of the most famous parks and public grounds in the country, from Central Park in New York City to the campus of Stanford University in Californa.
The Library of Congress Manuscript Division is home to the personal papers of Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) and the records of the landscape architecture firm, Olmsted Associates. As a young man Olmsted trained in horticulture and civil engineering. He worked as an organic farmer, travel writer, investigative journalist, and editor. His travels took him across the Atlantic and to the American South and Texas, where he observed slavery in progress. On the eve of the Civil War, he designed Central Park in New York with Calvert Vaux and became the park’s superintendent, promoting the “parks for the people” concept. During wartime he organized sanitation and medical relief services for the Union cause, managed a gold mining estate in the Sierra foothills, and became involved in early ideas for the public conservation and recreational use of Yosemite.
He returned to the East Coast after war’s end, and for the rest of his career pursued his calling as a landscape architect. Over many decades Olmsted and his various partners, including sons Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., and John Charles Olmsted, planned an amazing array of greenspaces for public and private use, including city parks, grounds of government buildings, campuses, expositions, hospitals, hotels and resorts, cemeteries, highways and garden parkways, residential communities and private estates. They helped to pioneer the professions of urban planning and landscape architecture, and to shape state and national park systems. Along the way, the Olmsteds collaborated with architects, city planners, park commissioners, botanists, arborists, public officials, businesses, and private citizens. (loc.gov)
You and your students can sign up to help transcribe and document the Olmsted materials online and make them available to historians and the general public. If this particular project doesn’t happen to appeal to you, here are two other recently posted American history projects you can join:
Projects like these offer homeschool students exceptional opportunities to develop independent study and research skills, and they are the opposite of busy-work: your students’ participation makes a genuine contribution to the accessibility of these valuable historical resources. Why not pick out a project for your homeschool and work on it into the new year.
What educational discoveries have you been making in your favorite library this Orion Term? 😊
❡ Dukedoms large enough: Have you found all the local libraries in your area? There may be more than you realize, and there’s no better homeschool field trip than a field trip to a new library! The WorldCat Library Finder will help you find all the library collections near you — public and private, large and small — and the WorldCat catalog itself will help you locate the closest copy of almost any book in the world. 🏛
❡ Books in the running brooks: The sidebar on the River Houses website has links to several wonderful online library collections that we like to explore. Why not sit yourself down at a large screen for a while (rather than a phone) and give them a browse. 🔍
❡ When in doubt, go to the library: This is one of our regular Homeschool Books & Libraries posts. Add your name to our weekly mailing list and get great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox all through the year. 📚