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[Detail] 2nd Annual Outing, Herz' Employees, c 1912

1) Expository Writing

Using photos from the collection to illustrate their writing, have students create and provide explanatory labels for an exhibit of what life was like at the turn of the century. Students might answer questions such as:

  • How did people from that time period make a living?
  • What did they do for fun?
  • How did they dress?
  • What modes of transportation did they use?

2) Creative Writing

Have students write short stories about people in the panoramic photographs. Students might create characters living in specific locales, and describe where they live and their daily activities. Or, students can write a journal or diary entry in the voice of someone who is describing a place or event found in a panoramic photo. Or, students can assume the role of a tour guide leading visitors around a particular city, and describe the sights, smells and sounds of that place.

3) Content Themes in the Study of Literature

The decades surrounding 1900 saw the increasing development of regional literature. Students studying regional writers of the era can use the panoramic photographs as a way to visualize the type of landscape the writers drew upon for creative inspiration. Students can select photos that illustrate a work of non-fiction or fiction.

For example, students might be asked to read John Muir's The Mountains of California, found in Evolution of the Conservation Movement, 1850-1920. Students can then search on Yosemite and Sierra Nevada Mountains in Taking the Long View, 1851-1991, to find images to illustrate Muir's writing.