This post has been written by Marissa Young, trainee at EuroClio.
On 11 March EuroClio provided a teacher training workshop at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands on “Women at Work: Analyzing and comparing visual sources from the Europeana Collections.”
long workshop focused on demonstrating to participants how Europeana source
collections on Historiana—specifically the Women
Working source collection—could be used in the Historiana eActivity
Builder to help students critically analyze visual sources. The workshop was
generously hosted by Dr. Tim Huijgen, professor of History education at the
University of Groningen. Participants were trainee teachers enrolled in master’s
level education studies at the University of Groningen and all were working
part-time as history teachers at local schools.
The workshop began with an introduction by Steven Stegers (EuroClio), who shared background information on Europeana and Historiana with the participants. He introduced the trainee teachers to the basic functions of Historiana.
Steven, I led an exploration on using the “Women Working” source collection. The source collection was built as an eLearning
Activity to help guide students’ analytical and critical viewing skills to help
answer historical enquiry questions. Such
as, “what can representations of washerwomen tell us about how this profession
was viewed by the rest of society?” or “How do representations of women medical
practitioners differ between cultures?”
Why Women Working?
to create a Europeana source collection for this workshop, I was inspired to
focus on representations of women for two reasons. One, a personal interest in
women’s history and two, due to the relevance of March as Women’s history
As I browsed
through Europeana looking for visual sources of women I was struck by the
number of sources showing women washing clothes, grinding grain, weaving cloth,
hulling coal, healing others, and producing goods all across different
cultures. These images offered a different interpretation of women workers than
the now popular celebration of women entering the workforce as a result of
wartime labor shortages. These images showed that women throughout history, and
across cultures, had a more diverse profile of work than often acknowledged.
curating this collection, my criteria for selecting sources was that they had
to show women actively engaged in doing work, and that the work was not
dependent upon a grand moment in history. Resulting images show the everyday experiences
my attention, when looking at the complete collection, was that women’s work
usually had social component represented. Women did their work with others, mostly
other women. In many of these sources there is a sense of community, collaboration
or assistance among the women. Does this social element represent the actual
conditions of women’s work? Or do these sources serve to further the stereotype
that women are the social gender?
much to explore in this collection, which is why we felt it would make for an
interesting workshop on analyzing and comparing sources.
Analyzing representation in visual sources
workshop I reviewed the concept of representation with the participants. Representation is the production of meaning
of concepts within a culture. One
participant gave the example that teachers are usually represented as standing
in front of a board, wearing glasses, and probably holding an apple. When we
see the board, glasses and apple and we recognize this person represents a
is a process we constantly engage in, yet do not t usually stop to consider.
However, taking the time to contemplate representation in an image can help students
learn how to analyze and discuss visual sources critically. A great tool for
teaching students to view sources critically is the Analyze tool in the eActivity
demonstrated during the workshop, you can use the Analyze tool to have students
annotate visual sources to help them articulate the process of visual source
analysis. A good annotation of a visual source has two components: a description and a meaning. For example:
The tree is arched over and all the leaves are pointing in one direction (description) which indicates this landscape is windy (meaning).
were asked to assume the role of students and make at least three annotations
on three images of washerwomen using the annotate feature in the eLearning Activity.
Participants discovered how this simple tool can be used to help structure
students’ process of visual source analysis and prepare them to answer
historical enquiry questions with reasonable and justified evidence.