Everett     Medford     Revere     Somerville     Winthrop    

 Learning Our Community's American Lore

Primary Sources » Images

Images such as photographs, political cartoons, broadsides, and films offer visual sources for students to examine. In one of our workshops on immigration in Somerville, for example, we watched a Mary Pickford silent film from 1915 that would have played in some of the 14 movie theaters in early twentieth-century Somerville

The film includes title screens that help narrate the story. Noticing how long these titles sat on the screen—sometimes 10 or 20 seconds for just a few words of text—many were at first puzzled as to why silent film directors would give these screens so much time. 


(Scene from "Rags")

(Film titles from "Rags")

After looking at the diverse immigrant population of Somerville as seen in the census of this period, however, we concluded that these titles screen were deliberately drawn out so that they could be translated into the 4 or 5 different languages spoken by immigrants in the audience.


Many teachers have found that using historic images, whether they are film or photos, adds interest and excitement to a lesson. Kristin Reynold's 3rd grade class in Winthrop examined historical photos of the town and tried to locate them in present day Winthrop.

Maps (Sanborn & GIS)  

Oral Histories






Doing Fieldwork

Shore Collaborative  •   Department of Education at Tufts  •   TAH Grant Program
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