Boom-Bust-RecoveryDocumenting the 1920s and 30s

The Twenties and Thirties were a dynamic period of boom and bust in American history. In the 1920s, Americans were discovering a new consumer culture. Our country was enjoying unprecedented prosperity and economic growth and undergoing social experimentation. By the 1930s, an overwhelming portion of our population learned about poverty in a very personal way. Over these years, the elusive American Dream appeared almost within reach, vanished from the hands of many, and experienced a variety of reinterpretations. As a museum curator you will give young people a feel for this turbulent period of American history!

The Scene
Welcome young curators! Springfield Township is pleased to announce a new museum to open this year— here in lovely downtown Erdenheim! You have the opportunity to create a Smithsonian-like exhibit focusing on your area of historical specialty - the 1920s and 1930s. Museum director Ashley Fusarelli is very particular about historical accuracy and aesthetics. Your exhibit must authentically represent the period to museum visitors. Using artifacts, news stories, and images, it must creatively draw the attention of all museum-goers! It must also engage them; therefore, you must create a dynamic presentation that captures the attention of viewers while educating them on your specific topic.

The Exhibit
Your exhibit should be in the form of a tri-fold board that is both appealing to the eye, catches your audience's attention, and educates museum visitors in an informative way. Additionally, your museum exhibit must contain an interactive element that allows the viewer to interact with your display. Beyond these requirements, you are free to create as you wish. Please include the following somewhere in your final product:
  • Authentic and relevant historic photographs. These must come from accredited sources online and in print. A good place to start is AP Photo Archive.You may also try the Library of Congress Photo Stream on Flickr, and Copyright-friendly images and sound. Much more is also available on our Decades Pathfinder.
  • News clippings. Two good sources for these are ProQuest Historical Newspapers and Time Magazine Archive.
  • Artifacts. These might include: posters, drawings, political cartoons, representations of clothing/fashion, buttons, graphs, a speech, legislation, advertisements, etc.
  • Interactive Content. Let your creativity shine through! In the past, students have used various techniques to make their exhibits accessible to their audience on a personal level. We'll discuss the various options that you have in class.
  • Every item in your exhibit should be catalogued. Label and cite (correctly) every artifact, photograph, and document AND annotate each with a couple of sentences explaining its importance.
  • If asked, you should be able to present museum director Fusarelli with a rationale for the inclusion of every artifact.

Important Handouts
Below, you will find links to the project assignment sheet & rubric as well as the handouts for project checkpoints.