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Picture of Jackie Katz by a pillar in theJefferson Building.
Jacqueline Katz, 2022-2023 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress

I observed, I reflected, I questioned…

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This post is by Jacqueline Katz, the 2022-2023 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow at the Library of Congress.

It is incredible to think that my eleven months at the Library of Congress are coming to a close! I very vividly remember the Summer Teacher Institute that I attended at the Library in July 2022, surrounded by history teachers, English teachers, art teachers, and librarians. Listening and engaging with these educators opened my eyes to the overlapping thinking processes of historians, artists, scientists, writers. All of these individuals are seeking to understand the world around them; it all starts with observations, reflections, and questions. Deep understanding cannot be achieved with the lens of one discipline. I set out to elevate these new-found understandings during my time at the Library!

Individuals across the Library have graciously spent their time assisting me along this journey. Josh Levy, historian in the Manuscript Division, helped me uncover sources that told a deeper story of pseudoscientific ideas. Were all pseudoscientists maliciously pushing false ideas or were they individuals striving to understand the world around them with the data available? The answer might not always be one or the other. Eileen Jakeway Manchester in LC Labs helped me see how the Library’s collections are data that could be utilized to both answer and raise new questions. Chad Conrady and Kathleen O’Neil, Senior Archives Specialists in the Library’s Manuscript Division, introduced me to the world of born-digital collection items and the puzzle they present to inform our understand of how we know what we know.

My colleagues in the Professional Learning & Outreach Initiatives (PLOI) Office and on the TPS Network pushed me to see STEM connections in places that I had never before looked. Sanborn maps, dance photograph collections, historic advertisements, slave narratives, oral histories, and WPA posters are just some of the sources that have proven to be launching points for conversations surrounding STEM concepts, ethics, history, politics, and more.

Sanborn map of my home town: Makes me wonder, did the features of 1895 Red Bank affect the demographic spread of Red Bank residents today?

Sanborn map showing structures and water in Red Bank, New Jersey
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Red Bank, Monmouth County, New Jersey, 1895

“Statistics” from a 1911 Quaker Oatmeal Advertisement: These statistics make me wonder what biases existed in the production of this advertisement and how the population of 1911 responded.

Images of four men along with information on who they are representing and what happened when they did or didn't have access to oatmeal.
Advertisement for Quaker Oats from New York Tribune, January 1, 1911

WPA poster from New York State: This makes me wonder what scientific evidence this poster was based on.

Baby wearing a bib that says Don't Kiss Me as part of poster on preventing Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis Don’t kiss me! : Your kiss of affection – the germ of infection. From WPA Arts Project, District Four

My experience at the Library of Congress has afforded me the time, space, and support to solidify my “whys.” I am excited to head back into the classroom with an arsenal of new skills and ideas to highlight the processes that lead to the construction of knowledge and the context in which STEM exists.

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Comments (3)

  1. Thank you, Jackie, for spending this past year with our team! Your enthusiasm, curiosity, teacher sense and collegiality have benefitted all of us. We wish you the very best as you continue to observe, reflect, question, research and create!!

  2. Jackie – The Quaker Oatmeal ad is a shocker. It clearly shows the widespread influence of the eugenics movement.
    Your work to connect science and all kinds of social and policy issues has been eye-opening and exciting.

  3. I love your Primary Source Analysis tool for older elementary students. However, our younger students needed a different tool, so I created it. I would LOVE to share it with you, but I can’t find an email address to send it. Please advise.
    Cindy Brown, 2nd Grade Teacher from Georgia

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