As our fourth and final blog post this fall related to the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, it seems appropriate that its theme focus on the concept of legacy. What a singer-songwriter leaves behind, from recordings, to manuscripts, to lyrics, can be thought of as their tangible legacies. The impact of his or her work, the connections listeners and concert goers make to the music, and the emotions the music inspires--these are some of the intangible legacies.
In July 2014, when Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced that Billy Joel would receive the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song, he described Joel as being, "a storyteller of the highest order."
Talented songwriters can be great storytellers! Not only do their songs often include elements of a short story, but they do so in ways that listeners can easily imagine and relate to.
The Gershwin Prize celebrates the work of an artist whose career reflects lifetime achievement in promoting song as a vehicle of musical expression and cultural understanding. The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress.
Most people don’t think of dance as a way to bring history to life. Looking at dancers in photographs, films and other images and reading about dancing and its role in celebrations, commemorations and other events can help students learn about what issues and events were considered important in a community, how people celebrated, what mores and values were important and how people dressed when going to certain events.
As the celebration of Washington's birthday draws near, primary sources from the Library of Congress can support explorations of the role of the French in United States victory, along with reactions to their assistance by government and military leaders, by the American people--and by Washington himself.
“The context for each imaginary contraption becomes fodder for understanding ideas about space and flight.” We’ve added some ideas at the end for ways to use these primary sources to deepen student understanding of the ways in which people have imagined space and flight.
There's nothing like primary sources to make you question your prior knowledge, and this blog post has several that surprise, spark interest, and make you want to learn more. Along with the suggested teaching activities, which are useful across most grade levels, these primary sources can help your students explore a famous historical event from several different perspectives including that of George Washington himself.