Education Blog Posts Reviews

Lincoln Film Review

Film Metadata

Title: Lincoln

Year: 2012

Director: Steven Spielberg

Writers: Tony Kushner (screenplay), Doris Kearns Goodwin

Producer: Steven Spielberg, Kathleen Kennedy

How I accessed the film: Prime Video

Film sources: The main source used to create Kushner’s idea of Lincoln was Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. However, Kushner used a variety of primary and secondary sources. The main primary source used by Kushner was Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1859-1865. Some of his secondary sources included Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson, Lincoln’s Melancholy by Joshua Wolf Schenk, and Amendment by Michael Vorenberg. A full list of all sources used by Kushner can be found here.

There are two main themes in the movie Lincoln. The first is the 13th amendment. The entire plot of the movie is centered around Lincoln in the final year of the Civil War. During this time, there is a large push for the passing of the 13th amendment. Not only is Lincoln trying to end the war, but he is also attempting to change society for the better. For the amendment to pass, Lincoln must gauge the public’s opinion on the matter. There is a scene in Lincoln that depicts this exact interaction. During Lincoln’s days in office, it was socially acceptable to take your issues directly to the president himself. Within the scene of the movie (14:00-19:04), Lincoln and Secretary Seward are greeted by a man and wife from Missouri with concerns about a toll booth. According to the man, the toll booth belonged to his grandfather, however, it is now being “illegally held” by General Schofield of the Union army. Secretary Seward then asks Mr. and Mrs. Jolly if they had heard about the proposed 13th amendment. The couple proceeds to explain that they are in favor of the amendment because it will end the war. However, if there was another way to end the war without abolishing slavery, they would prefer that instead. This scene emphasized the complexities around the creation of the 13th amendment. It accurately portrayed the mindset of those who wished the war would end.

The second theme of the film is the compromising of politicians for the greater good—the film dealt largely with politicians from completely opposite ends of the aisle working in congress together. The main divide within the house is those pro-slavery and that pro-abolition. Lincoln is attempting to get two very stubborn groups to work together to save the union. Lincoln was dealing with many complex issues at a single time. The main reason for the war beginning, according to Lincoln, was the issue of slavery. There is a scene within the film (1:39:00-1:46:48) where Lincoln finally loses his temper on his cabinet. After arguments pass back and forth over the table, Lincoln passionately declares that the amendment must pass to save the union. I have found a shorter clip of the scene from YouTube and have included it here.Lincoln Movie Scene

Most of this film is historically accurate, however, there are some inaccuracies. The most historically accurate depiction in the film is Lincoln himself. The prioritization of Lincoln’s accuracy left some other characters’ accuracy to fall to the waist side. According to Joshua Zeitz from The Atlantic wrote “the depiction of the president and his political challenges to be “masterful” but finds extensive fault with the one-dimensional portraits of nearly all the president’s men.”[1] Some other historical inaccuracies include the simplified role of African Americans in the abolition of slavery.[2] Another inaccuracy was pointed out by Princeton graduate Benjamin Schmidt. When discussing the language used in the film, Schmidt said, “There were many problems of that nature, from important but modern phrases such as ‘racial equality” to gritty non-period-styling cursing”[3] The movie does accurately portray Lincoln’s persona and the nature of wartime. It also did a good job of displaying the complexities of politics.

If I was given the choice, I would include this movie in a lesson plan concerning the Civil War and the 13th amendment. I believe an interesting way to use this film would be to create a portrayal of the debate that occurred over the 13th amendment. Before beginning the lesson, I will address the historical inaccuracies displayed in the film. Clarifying these inaccuracies will better prepare them for the lesson and their understanding of this event. Each student will be assigned a character (Lincoln, Seward, Thaddeus Stevens, etc.) and given copies of primary documents that are from their assigned character. Students will research their given character and prepare for a debate “on the floor house”. During their research, students will consider the questions:

  1. Why do I believe what I believe?
  2. What are my morals?
  3. How does my status in society affect my life?
  4. What do I have to lose or gain from this?
  5. What will my constituents think of me?

The goal of this lesson is to place students inside the minds of those who took part in the actual event. After the debate, students will then vote on whether to pass the 13th amendment. Students will then write a comparison essay of their debate, with that depicted in the film.

[1] Matthew Pinsker,  David Broadhurst on July 5. “Historians React to the ‘Lincoln’ Movie.” Emancipation Digital Classroom, 7 Feb. 2013, lincoln-movie/.

[2] ibid

[3] ibid

My Digital Project Reviews

Portfolio Blog Post #3

My digital project, All Eyes on Us, is a podcast that discusses and analyzes the lives of presidential children. Although not all of them were children during their father’s presidency, I will still refer to them as children. This project aims to delve into their personal lives and learn from their experiences. Their stories provide an interesting perspective into the daily routine of the White House. Not only were their families the center of the public’s eye, but also the eyes of the secret service. Therefore, my project aims to answer the question, How were their lives affected living under such close watch?” The project will focus on why they made certain decisions, and how their decisions were affected by their relationship with their family and the public.

I decided to go this route with my project for a few reasons. The first is that I realized how little I knew about the presidential children. I realized that maybe other people in the field of history had the same curiosities as myself. The second reason was that there are a lot of stigmas today concerning mental health. Many people do not realize how poor mental health can affect a person at any age. Therefore, I thought this project would be an interesting combination of these two realizations.

While creating this project, I needed to decide whether I wanted to host the show alone or have a co-host. This was a difficult choice because I was unsure of how this would affect the flow of the narrative. However, I managed to intertwine the narrative of the podcast with a constructive conversation about our main topics/themes. I believe that it was a good decision to have a co-host for this podcast. This decision was practical for me considering my co-host is my roommate. It made planning the episode much easier as I always have her in the same house as me. This was also an intellectual decision for me. The podcast is not only discussing and bringing awareness to certain historical figures. It is also mental health and familial issues. I figured that if I wanted to open the conversation up to others, a good example would be to show a comfortable conversation about these difficult subjects.

Reviews Tools

Portfolio Blog Post #2

New technologies and methods within Public history have begun to influence the creation of digital history projects. There are many ways that people can engage with history on the internet now. Public historians are starting to establish their digital presence. Some of the new methods of engaging with the public include social media platforms and blogs.

Social media has become incredibly important for public institutions. It has allowed museums to promote their newest exhibitions and upcoming events to entice visitors. The type of museum will influence which social media platform is best to display their information. An art museum might be interested in using a more visually appealing platform such as Instagram. An example of a project creating an Instagram account is Baltimore’s Chicory Revitalization Project. ” The page is used in ways similar to that of Instagram poets in that it allows users to directly access poetry—as both art and historical evidence—and individualize their experience with it.”[1] This digital history project has provided a unique, museum-like experience for all visitors of their account. I believe that is an important goal for digital public historians to achieve. 

Another new platform for digital public historians is blogs. Although blogs have been around for quite some time already, they appear to be making a come-back. Blogs can provide more content for a museum than a social media page. “Blogs also offer a museum with a website a valuable way to reach a wider audience through search engine optimization and, in particular, a blog’s inclusion in Google search.”[2] Museums and other public institutions can use blogs to engage more directly with users and can allow them to engage with each other. The connection between the institution and its visitors paves the way for relationships between visitors. 

I also believe that Covid-19 played a role in this transformation. It is more important now than ever for museums and other public institutions to have a digital presence. Due to the nature of Covid, people needed to stay inside and limit contact with other people. The creation of virtual tours and other digital engagements allowed museums to stay in contact with visitors. 

[1] Sydney Johnson,  “Doin’ It for the Gram: How Baltimore’s Chicory Revitalization Project Uses Instagram to Engage the Public.” National Council on Public History,

[2] Bomboy, Scott, and Rebecca Sherman. “Success Strategies for Engaging Audiences with Museum Website Blogs.” MW2014: Museums and the Web 2014. Published February 24, 2014



Clio Review

The project I decided to review was Clio. I chose this digital project mainly because I had difficulty finding one about my current location. Clio is a digital history project that provides the public with the locations of historical sites. These guides include a summary of information about the landmark, museum, monument, etc., and directions to the site. Visitors can engage with unique features on the site, such as the “time capsule.”  This element on Clio where the public can provide information about the History they have witnessed. Users can also create tours for specific locations in their area.

Clio uses an abundance of place-based techniques to create user engagement. They have a variety of tours that appear based on the user’s location, including walking, driving, heritage paths, hiking, virtual tours, and story maps.  Directions are provided to the user to guide them within their experience. Clio encourages users to discover the History that is present inside and outside of their location.

Clio encourages placed-based history theory. The place-based theory is the idea of learning within your immediate location. This encouragement offers the idea that you do not need to be in the classroom or a museum to interact with History. Clio also uses various links associated with chosen tours to allow users to continue their research and interests. The digital project Clio is incredibly useful for educating through experience.



A Comparative Review of the First Ladies Exhibit

The First Ladies. Created and maintained by the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian, Washington, D.C, Reviewed Feb. 11, 2022.

The comparative review I chose was The First Ladies exhibit that is located in the National Museum of American History. I chose this exhibit because I found it both peculiar and interesting. The set-up of the physical exhibit is incredibly easy to navigate through. It primarily provided a single flow of traffic, which made it nice to not bump into people. There is a single loop within the exhibit. The loop is defined by Michelle Obama’s Inaugural Gown. The digital presence was also incredibly easy to navigate. Everything is individually categorized by either name, object, activity, etc. The physical exhibit has a much more regal, almost pageant-like feel to it. When looking for the argument of the exhibit, the digital site encourages the viewer to consider the ways in which the role of the first lady has changed over the course of the years. Although this was the argument for the physical exhibit, I came up with my own while walking through it.  The argument that I felt was embedded within the physical exhibit was “what was the true role of the first lady?”. I felt that this argument was also applicable to the virtual tour of the exhibit. The items that were on display within the exhibit included gowns worn by the first ladies, pieces from their china collections, as well as other small trinkets. I found that the answer to this posed argument was simply entertaining guests at the White House. The physical design of the exhibit made this answer easier to reveal. The design consisted of a very dim room with glass display cases. In each case was an object under a spotlight. I felt that this design decision accurately described what life was like for the first ladies. They were constantly in the spotlight in terms of when it came to the public. They were expected to be the perfect wife and role model for the rest of the women in the United States. When looking at the digital site, users are able to take a virtual tour which helps create a similar experience with those who visit the physical exhibit.  The main audience for this exhibit is women or young girls. This was apparent in both the physical and digital presence. When I was at the physical exhibit there was a majority of women and children viewing the exhibit. I believe the assumptions that can be drawn from this exhibit is that those who curated believe that these dresses and china collections are the best expression of what a first lady is. These were prevalent more in the physical exhibit than in the digital presence. The digital presence had more information concerning other activities of the first ladies such as campaigning and other political advocacy. There are some interactive elements for the exhibit on the digital presence. When on the site, you are able to take a virtual tour of the exhibit and look through the belongings of certain first ladies. During the virtual tour, the user is able to click on the dress of a first lady. Information is then displayed about who the dress belongs to, which event it was worn at, and a description of her shoes and jewelry that were worn with the dress. Although there are not a lot of interactive elements on the digital space, it does give a good idea and feel as to what the exhibit is like in person. The interactive dress selection is very neat and almost feels a bit like online shopping. I think the small amount of interactive elements on the digital space is due to the size of the exhibit, as it is rather small compared to many others. Unfortunately, there were no interactive elements within the physical exhibit. However, I do not know how they would incorporate an interactive element in this exhibit due to the items on display. When visiting the physical exhibit, I saw those who worked at the museum within the exhibit but I did not see much interaction between them and other visitors. The digital space does not have opportunities to get in touch with the specific curators of this exhibit.

If I was given the opportunity to change the physical exhibit, I would include more than just dresses and plates. Many people tend to think of the first lady as just some pretty face that is used for the gain of their husband who is running for office. It is their job to make the public believe that they are a happy couple. However, there is much more to many of these women. I felt that the physical exhibit represented the idea of the first lady and who the country thought she should be. I would like to add more items, objects, diaries, etc., that showed what made them different and unique to the position. Many first ladies were very politically active. I would like to include other materials that represent the power that the first lady is granted. I believe that this would make the exhibit more effective and open up the curiosities of more people than just women and children.

If I was given the opportunity to alter the exhibit on the digital space, I would include a page where visitors can exchange thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. The main reason I believe this would be effective for the digital space is that the main question is posed on the first page of the exhibit. The curators are asking for visitors to see if there are any changes in the first ladies over the years. I think that this space would allow people to generate answers to this question. It could also allow for new questions and opinions to be formed. Another interesting addition to the digital space could be linked to some of the organizations or projects that have been created by certain first ladies. It would give the user more information concerning who that first lady was as a person, her beliefs, and values. This would not only help establish a better connection between the viewer and the material but also between the viewer and the first lady herself.

Overall, the physical exhibit and digital space of the exhibit are incredibly similar. Again, I believe this is due to the size of the exhibit. However, both presented the viewer with many questions concerning the lives of the first ladies. They are both incredibly easy to navigate through and leave you wanting more. I believe that this exhibit, both physically and digitally, offers more than just one argument. This is mainly a result of the items that are on display. It was the same items for every woman, which can encourage the visitor to become even more curious about who these women were as individuals. I think that this exhibit is beautiful and showcases the elegance and regality of these women. However, it also represents how these women were more than just pretty dresses and fragile dining china. I hope those who decide to visit this exhibit leave feeling more curious than ever.


Reviews Tools

I Love Podcasts!

Podcasts are a fantastic way to share information. One of the biggest reasons I love podcasts is because it makes learning feel like a conversation. When it comes to using podcasts in history, this feeling of  ‘conversation’ grows. Mainly because people tend to think of history as the collection of stories, and who doesn’t love to listen to a good story. Podcasts are a great way to convey history. Sometimes reading history can be dull, but podcasts make the words of those pages come to life. There is subtle difference between reading the material yourself  and listening to someone else read you the material. Typically, it can be easier to understand the material or context better when listening to someone explaining it. This is because you can use things such as the tone and diction of the host to understand this context better. Also, in a podcast, you can rewind in case you missed something! Podcasts are a great way to help people become engaged in historical material. The only issue I currently see with podcasts is that there could be a problem with the information provided by the host or the production of the podcast could over-shine the content of the episode.

The podcast that I found most compelling in this activity was Dig; A history Podcast. The episode I listened to was titled, “A History of Racial Passing in the United States”. I thought that this podcast was one of the more engaging ones that we had to listen to. The hosts Dr. Sarah Handley-Cousins and Dr. Averill Earls presented a podcast episode concerning racial passing. They analyzed this history by discussing the history of Black Americans who racially passed as white in order to avoid oppression from laws such as Jim Crow. However, what was incredibly fascinating about this episode, was that it was revealed that today many White Americans are trying to pass as Black Americans. This information completely shocked me. According to the podcast, this is due to what I summarized as a fear of white exclusion.

Another historical story that I think would make a great podcast is the story of treasure hunter Forrest Fenn.  There could already be a podcast created about this man that I just have not listened to yet, but I think his story would be interesting to tell.  Although I do not believe in the taking of other cultures’ objects for personal gain, I think his story is interesting because he is the closest thing we have to a real-life, Indiana Jones.

Reviews Tools

Voyant, Kepler, and Palladio

For the past week, I have been working with three different mapping tools; Voyant, Kepler, and Palladio. These three different tools have revealed a large amount of information concerning the WPA Slave Narrative Collection interviews. While using Voyant, I was able to learn about the frequency of specific words and phrases that appeared throughout all of the interviews. This illustrated the similarities and differences within the content of the interviews. Kepler was probably my favorite tool out of these three. Mainly because I found it to be the easiest one to use for this data. While using Kepler, I was able to see the locations of where the interview occurred and where the interviewee was formally enslaved. Kepler was a really interesting tool due to the variety of map choices you could create. Also, the splitting map feature was very helpful when comparing the different maps. The last tool I used was Palladio. Palladio was very interesting because of the number of graphs you could create using the uploaded data. I learned a great deal of information about these interviews using Palladio. This included the content and question asked by the interviewers, the differences in questions asked due to gender, the age of the interviewees, etc. The use of all three of these tools complements each other very well. Each information found in one is built upon in the next tool.

Reviews Tools

Palladio’s Maps and Graphs

Palladio is a very intricate tool to use for the visualization of data. You can upload data to form various graphs, maps, and tables. Although I ran into some difficulties using it for the first time, it is still very useful, especially when it comes to graphics. My project with Palladio involved evaluating, mapping, and graphing the various relationships from a series of interviews with people who were former slaves. Palladio can be used in a few easy steps. First, you will need to upload your primary source of data when you first go onto the site. My set of data was the list of interviews, so I labeled this column “Interviews”. In your primary table, you can create other tables by simply clicking on one of your topics and selecting “add new table”. The two other tables I created were labeled “Locations” and “Enslaved”. In the “Locations” table, I uploaded information concerning the location of where the interview occurred and where the person was formally enslaved. I did this by clicking on my characteristic “where interviewed occurred”. In the “Enslaved” table, I clicked on my characteristic “where enslaved” and uploaded data about that. To create a map with this data, I selected the button labeled “extension”. The extension button allows for data to be shared between tables. When creating the map, the data that you shared through your extensions will appear under the categories “source’ and “target” when using a point-to-point map.

I felt that using the graph function of Palladio was much easier than using the map. When creating a graph, all of your characteristics will appear regardless of whether the information was placed through an extension. To create a graph, you simply just need to select which characteristic is your source and which is your target.


JSTOR Review


Overview: JSTOR offers a variety of search options including academic books, journals, images, primary, and secondary sources. JSTOR also offers an advance search. This advance search includes searching by subject, title, collection, and publisher. The digitization of the contents of this database is available for re-digitization if necessary.

Date Range: 1665 to present.

Publisher: A non-profit organization called Ithaka Harbors, Inc.

Publisher About Page:

Object Type: Books, journals, images, primary, and secondary sources.

Exportable Image: Yes

Facsimile Image: Yes

Full text searchable: JSTOR is only full text searchable if users have access through an institution or they can pay for an account.

Title List Link:

Digitized Microfilm: There are some items.

Original Sources: Include but are not limited to, monographs, pamphlets, manuscripts, letters, diary entries, oral histories, government documents, images, 3D models, spatial data, type specimens, drawings, and paintings.

History: JSTOR was created by William G. Bowen in 1994.

CCL¬EAR COMMITTEE REVIEW. Review of JSTOR Databases, by California Community College Libraries. 2016, pp. 1–7.

Access: JSTOR requires either a personal log-in or an institutional log-in. Without one of these two logins, people are not able to obtain full documents or images.

Citing: JSTOR offers various citing tools. They provide information for manual citations. Users can also choose a certain citation format and JSTOR will generate the citation for the user.