The "Wizard of Photography" Web site offers several features you can use with your class to enhance your study of American history, photography, the development of technology, or inventors:
People and Events
Includes biographical sketches of key people in George Eastmans life. Students can consider how important individuals like Henry Reinhenbach and William Walker were in Eastmans development process. How much did Eastman depend on their discoveries? What was Eastmans relationship with Thomas Edison? This provides a good opportunity to discuss the fact that technology is not advanced in a vacuum. Go to People and Events page.
Offers a number of interactive features and background, including an essay about Eastmans final years. Have students compare Eastmans life, motivations, and background to another inventor. Go to Special Features page.
Provides a history of photography. Students could research the role of photography in society at different points in its history. Go to The Timeline page.
An Eastman historian noted "the Brownie (camera) democratized photography." Go over the feature on Kodak and Brownie cameras in the People and Events section with your class. Then discuss the concept of "democratizing" with students, offering more examples such as Fords Model T. Ask students to discuss why or why not they think the Internet might fit this description. Have them present examples to back up their ideas. Ask them to consider the following: Who has access to the Internet? What does the Internet allow access to? Can people create a public presence on the Internet they might not have been able to create anywhere else? Do more or less people participate in the public arena then before? Is easy access to a public arena a positive or negative thing? Why or why not?
Edison and Houdini were peers of Eastmans, both also wowing the public with feats of wonder. Using the People and Events sections of the American Experience Web sites on all three men, have students compare and contrast these personalities, whether in a report or chart. Have students consider the following: How did each grow up? What were some childhood influences? What was the goal of each? What were their methods? What was each mans relationship to the public? Did these men have successful personal lives? Did their lives intersect personally or professionally? How was each emblematic of his times? Go to the Houdini Web site People & Events page. Go to the Edison Web site People & Events page. Go to the Eastman Web site People & Events page.
Have students use the Timeline feature to become acquainted with the history of photography. Then have students create their own pinhole cameras with common household items.:
Ask students to take pictures documenting a particular day in school, assigning each a particular time and place. If students have access to a darkroom, arrange for them to develop the film used. Once the film is developed, the class may then assemble the pictures into a photo essay emblematic of their school day, whether for the school paper or for display.