Studying Local History in the Digital Age: The Story of Asaph Perry

By Lee, John K.; Clarke, W. Guy | Social Education, April 2004 | Go to article overview

Studying Local History in the Digital Age: The Story of Asaph Perry


Lee, John K., Clarke, W. Guy, Social Education


ONE YEAR AGO WE HAD THE GOOD FORTUNE of discovering some forgotten and unused historical resources hidden in a storage closet at the Cherokee County Georgia Historical Society. From these resources, we were able to weave an intriguing narrative encompassing people and events in history. We hope our story will encourage other teachers and students to explore primary sources from their community--in local archives, libraries, historical associations, and homes.

In the historical society storage closet, we found a somewhat tattered box of letters, correspondences, newspaper clippings, and memorabilia from the family of a man named William Asaph Perry. (1) The box had not been catalogued and was among an assortment of other local historical primary documents and artifacts. Like many small and medium sized communities, Cherokee County does not have a formal local historical archive. Instead, some of the most important local primary historical resources and the relating stories of the past are maintained by amateur enthusiasts and an historical society.

We decided to explore the Perry materials along with a small group of university pre-service social studies teachers. The reasons were multifold; for one thing we wanted to tell a story that was, in a sense, untold. The pre-service teachers who participated were particularly interested in the prospect of developing a resource that could later be used in their classrooms. They also wanted to create something that was flexible enough to work in various contexts, so we made a deliberate effort to expand our content focus. For example, since Asaph Perry was born in 1870 and came of age at a time of tremendous change and innovation, we decided to tell some of his story in the context of these changes. Broadening this context enabled us to explore how technological changes allowed Asaph Perry and others in the late 1890S and early 1900s to live and work differently than their parents.

Students in a high school history class in Cherokee County also explored the Perry resources. The study of Asaph Perry allowed these students to identify, themselves within larger historical contexts and to also recognize "their shared humanity and common problems" regardless of time or place. (2) The study of personal or local history empowered our students to make sense of larger narratives about the past. Asaph Perry's story is not an unusual one, but it is a story about, and full of, opportunities--opportunities for teachers to help students engage and make sense of the past. The life of Asaph Perry, a resident of Cherokee County during the era in which modern America would begin to emerge, exemplifies a variety of historical themes in American history: technological change, industrialization, entrepreneurial spirit, family life, and changing gender roles.

Students had a unique opportunity to examine the life and times of a real family using actual documents written by and to Perry, as well as other relevant artifacts he collected. However, the documents and artifacts only gave us glimpses into his life. Our aim was to understand as much about Perry's life as possible, but to do this with a parallel aim of engaging lager stories and themes from history Students in our classes, armed with the tools of historical analysis, inquired about the past using these specific artifacts and, in a sense, Asaph Perry become a telescope into the past. The study of Perry's life within the larger context of American history allowed our students to truly understand the changes that were taking place--industrial, technological, economic, and societal--during a time when the modern United States that they now live in was beginning to take shape. Alone, the significance of Asaph Perry's letters is not evident; however, using the processes of analysis and interpretation, students gained a deeper understanding of the past.

Invested with a personal and scholarly interest, we pursued Asaph Perry's story, much like historian Carl Becket's "Mr. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Studying Local History in the Digital Age: The Story of Asaph Perry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.