The Dred Scott Family and the National Debate Over Slavery

Minnesota Historical Society
St. Paul, MN

The Minnesota Historical Society (MNHS) launched the History Live interactive videoconferencing program to connect its historical and educational resources with a wider audience, especially students. History Live utilizes two-way audio and visual technology to bring museum educators, artifacts, and digitized primary sources directly into the classroom for in-depth, real-time conversations about history. By leveraging tools that students are familiar with, this program empowers them to identify, investigate, and share historical content that resonate with their lives. Through conversations with teachers statewide, History Live created The Dred Scott Family and the National Debate Over Slavery program to meet their classroom needs.

Dred Scott builds multiple layers of technology upon essential primary sources. It allows students to engage directly with the content, personally drive the exploration of the Scotts’ story, and identify the effects this history has on their own lives. Using green-screen technology, History Live instructors display and physically highlight digitized historic maps, images and documents during the program. Simultaneously, students use tablets, smart-phones, ipods, or laptops to access a specially designed website and guide their own exploration of the same primary sources.

Throughout the program students are also challenged to send personal ideas and analyses to the History Live instructors via their devices. In this way, each student generates personalized content. For example, after examining digitized copies of the Northwest Ordinance, U.S. Constitution and Bill Of Rights, students are challenged to send in their own captions for an 1851 political illustration. History Live instructors then use online cartoon creators to place student created word bubbles on the original illustration and share it with the class.

Leverage new learning tools that keep history relevant by putting young people in the driver’s seat of their own discovery is at the core of Dred Scott. This program not only shares the stories that MNHS strives to preserve, but encourages future preservation by sharing ownership of these stories with the next generation. History Live offers MNHS and classroom teachers seamless ways to use technology to create new learning experiences. It equips students with skills they need to be the citizens of tomorrow by helping them connect their lives to the struggles and triumphs of those who came before.