At Makematic, we are currently in-development of exciting, new U.S. history videos for the Untold collection. We are striving for the utmost in historical accuracy while making sure the videos are altogether fun to watch! We have numerous experts from across America who contribute immensely to each Untold video, who we’d love to showcase in this blog.Read More
The history that doesn’t make it into the textbooks is the best stories to tell.
It’s a new year and not much has changed in the world. We’re still in a global pandemic, we’re still at home and we’re still washing our hands. But some things have changed. The US has a new President and Vice President, there are vaccines being administered every day around the world, and a lot of new Untold videos are being released.Read More
The events at Capitol Hill were shocking. And as an educator, whether you live in the United States or not, there is so much that should be discussed with those you teach.Read More
In 2020 we launched Untold, a collaboration with Driving Force Institute for Public Engagement, USC Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education. A free collection of short, compelling history videos and animations designed to shine a light on stories that don’t make it into the classroom and to question what we think we know about those that do. We believe that not everything worth knowing exists inside the cover of history textbooks. Untold has been created to fill in the gaps and bring new stories to life.Read More
Our endless viewing of vlogs, baking tutorials and those fascinating videos from Jungle Survival, has Nellie Bly to thank. She can be considered as the world’s first blogger. In 1887, her work “Behind Asylum Bars” where she went undercover in a Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island went viral and changed the way institutions are run forever. Inspired by the book Around the World in 80 Days, Bly set sail in 1889 and documented her adventures – travel blogger (or vlogging) style. Her record-breaking trip only took 72 days!
Bly’s viral work and travel blogging got me thinking about how vlogging has dominated the way we tell stories and document our lives.
And as someone who has done 7 vlogs (that you can watch here) and counting, I thought it would be interesting to dive into the evolution of vlogging and see how it has changed the way we tell stories.
But Before That
You can find out more about Nellie Bly and other historical figures within our Hidden Histories collection from the Untold series – a project of the Driving Force Institute for Public Engagement. Produced and distributed by Makematic with the USC Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education.
The Early 2000’s
Adam Kontras. You’ve probably never heard his name, but he is known to have created the world’s first vlog. Kontras set off on a cross-country road trip and along the way, he would write blogs to send to his friends and family about his adventures. On January 2000, he posted a video with his blog, that shows him sneaking a cat into a hotel that has a “No Pets” policy, thus creating the first vlog.
On 24 April 2005, “Me at the zoo” by YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim was published on YouTube. You may not be aware of the significance of this video, but believe it or not, this was the first YouTube video ever. With Karim speaking in front of the camera and explaining his surrounding in this 18-second video, some even classify this clip as the first vlog ever on YouTube, which has 99M views and counting.
The Bedroom Scene
Majority of the now-famous YouTubers began their vlogging careers in their bedroom talking in front of a webcam. However, one ‘video blogger’ as she phrased it in 2006, became the first viral sensation, first popular blogger on YouTube and first internet hoax. What a woman. Lonelygirl15 gained viewership quickly despite the seemingly ‘dull nature’ of the videos, pretty sure she says boring almost 6 times in her first video. However, a couple of months into her vlogging career, it was revealed that the channel was fake and that ‘Bree’ was actually an actress, and the whole series was produced LA-based creators.
Despite the hoax that lonelygirl15 was, she paved the way for vlogging and future creators. She showed the world the potential of YouTube and how stories can be made, and it all started in the bedroom. It also shows you how old we are if you remember lonelygirl15. So thanks ‘Bree’.
The $21,000 First-Class Airplane Seat
This was the first vlog I watched. To be honest, I didn’t want to watch vlogs back then because I would tend to feel jealous of what the person is showing me – like Casey Neistat (12.1M subs), who as the title states got a $21,000 first-class airplane seat, something that some of us can only get if we win the lottery. But after watching this vlog, I went down a deep rabbit hole and spent days watching his vlog channel.
Vlogs have evolved throughout the years and trying to write about it in one blog, is impossible. Famous vloggers, such as Casey, Liza Koshy (17.8M subs), David Dobrik (17.8M subs), have all brought something different to the vlogging world. Whether that’s playing truth or dare in public or filling the entire backyard with foam – vlogs can be about anything.
Vlogs are about the authenticity of a creator. It’s about sitting down and talking in front of a camera or filming something completely different. Some vlogs have a staged element in them – pioneered by lonelygirl15 – and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s difficult to shoot something that happens spontaneously, after all, it’s not every day that you get to film the cutest baby talk ever. So planning your vlog content to make it more interesting is a good way to start. Personally, I think this video illustrates it perfectly, it’s a planned vlog that is so chaotic and entertaining that it makes you want to watch more.
So there you have it, a condensed version of the evolution of vlogging. Vlogging continues to evolve and creators continue to rise on the internet. So why not start your vlogs today?
Ever heard of William Higinbotham? Probably not, but did you know this American physicist helped create the first Atomic bomb during World War II and then went on to create the first American video-game – a precursor to Pong entitled Tennis for Two!
Creating the Infamous Atomic Bomb
Higinbotham was born in Connecticut in 1910 and grew up in Caledonia, New York. He earned his undergraduate degree from Williams College in 1932 and continued his studies at Cornell University. One of the first achievements was working on the radar system at MIT from 1941 to 1943.
During World War II, he began working for the U.S. government at Los Alamos National Laboratory and headed the lab’s electronics group. In the later years of the war, his team developed electronics for the first-ever atomic bomb which would be utilized by the U.S. for the Pacific war in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. He also spent his life trying to slow down the nuclear arms race that ensued as a result of the atomic bomb’s creation.
A Career Change like No Other
In 1948, Higinbotham joined Brookhaven National Laboratory’s instrumentation group. During that time, he would be responsible for the annual visitor exhibits of which thousands of people would come tour the lab. Most of the existing exhibits were rather dull. Higinbotham thought he could better capture visitors’ interest by creating an interactive demonstration
Higinbotham wrote: “It might liven up the place to have a game that people could play, and which would convey the message that our scientific endeavors have relevance for society.”
Tennis for Two
Just like that, Tennis for Two was conceptualized. The instrumentation group had a small analog computer that could display various curves, including the path of a bouncing ball, on an oscilloscope. It took Higinbotham only a couple of hours to conceive the idea of a tennis game, and only a few days to put together the basic pieces. Thanks to Higinbotham’s background in radar systems helped him immensely to design the simple, game display.
Tennis for Two is often marked as a precursor to 1970’s Pong except it had a few caveats. You had to note the score manually; no in-game counter but it didn’t matter as visitors loved it! It quickly became the most popular exhibit at the Laboratory, with people standing in long lines to get a chance to play.
Want to Know More?
Watch the story of Tennis For Two as part of Untold’s The Museum of Artifacts That Made America series.
That’s one of the questions asked in the Untold series produced by Makematic, Driving Force Institute and USC Center for Engagement-Driven Global Education. This particular video is about Hedy Lamarr, once dubbed the most beautiful woman on earth and made famous by acting in old Hollywood classic films such as ‘Boomtown’ and ‘Samson and Delilah’.
Contrary to what her Wikipedia entry may want you to believe, these days young children are more likely to learn about her as the inventor of the frequency-hopping spread spectrum, which is at the basis of mobile phone and Bluetooth technology. She was also one of the first female film producers and a wartime fundraiser.
It got me thinking whether there were other female film stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood with seemingly hidden talents, real trailblazers of their time, exhibiting skills and traits of creativity and entrepreneurship. Exactly the skills we want to actively develop in young children in this day and age. We use words like ‘empowerment’ and ‘engagement’ all the time, especially in educational settings, but back in the first half of the 20th Century, this was a different story. Perhaps at the time beauty was preferred over brains.
Ester Williams invented waterproof make-up. Marlene Dietrich was awarded the highest US civilian medal, the Medal of Freedom for all of her efforts for the troops during WWII. She was also politically active, regularly speaking with Reagan and Gorbachev. Julie Newman, who played Catwoman in the 1960s, invented ‘bum lifting’ tights and an ‘invisible’ bra. Audrey Hepburn became one of the first UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors and was completely dedicated to her humanitarian work later in life. Bette Davis was the first woman to start a lawsuit against Warner Brothers about her salary, autonomy and quality of roles. Singer and actress Josephine Baker was also a spy during WWII.
Of course, there were and are many more amazing innovative, entrepreneurial, engaged and pioneering women. The paper bag, dishwasher, windshield wipers, coffee filters and Kevlar are just a few examples of items invented by women. There are lots of great examples of women dedicated to science, politics, the environment and other causes. Young children are becoming more familiar with the names and achievements of these hidden figures. I hope we’re on our way to a society where we value brains over beauty as we teach our children about these wonderful women and their talents are no longer hidden anymore.
Watch the fascinating story of Hedy Lamarr as part of Untold’s Hidden Histories.
Find out more about Untold by visiting untoldhistory.org.
We are pleased to announce the official launch of Untold!
Untold is a free collection of short historical videos and animations that dive deeper into the stories you’ve heard before, and delve into the stories that time forgot.
Head to the official Untold YouTube channel – UntoldEdu – to watch the videos now! New videos are uploaded every Wednesday.
Untold features four series:
- America Explained – Exploring America’s history and how it impacts today’s society – from the Founding Mothers to what marijuana tells us about States’ rights.
- The Museum of Artifacts that Made America – From the first video games to the cotton gin; how do the inventions of the past impact the world around us today?
- Hidden Histories – Hidden Histories shines a light on influential Americans whose stories don’t usually make it into the textbooks – from the “Robin Hood of Harlem” to the greatest athlete of the 20th century.
- Speeches that changed America – Words have power. These speeches helped to change the course of American history.
For more information about Untold visit the website at untoldhistory.org
Hidden Figures is a series of stories about interesting historical figures you’ve probably never heard of.
The Power of Stories
When we tell stories instead of facts they are at least 22 times more memorable. That’s because evolution has hardwired our brains for storytelling. You might be surprised to hear that our brains actually become more active when we tell and listen to stories, because our whole brain is working. It’s challenging to find bite-sized video content online about inspirational people. One study found that 34% of educators are struggling to find time to search for videos, and another that educators spend up to seven hours each week searching for additional instructional resources. That’s insane!!
That’s one of the reasons why Untold was created. To harness the power of storytelling and take it into not just the history class, but across the curriculum.
The series Hidden Figures has been created with the educator in mind. This series tells stories. Stories of people who have done amazing things, but for some reason are not widely know. From the story of the Robin Hood of Harlem, Stephanie St. Claire, AKA Madame Queenie, Good Samaritan Bob Fletcher, Mexican-American journalist Jovita-Idar, Native American Olympian Jim Thorpe and inventor of the home security system Marie Van Brittan Brown.
Let’s Hear From The Production Team
Our production team enjoyed creating this series so much!
The team included: Producer, Zoe Lack, Script Writer, Lee Henry, Lead Animator, Barbara Cipollone and Sound Engineer, Kevin Gillen. Here’s what Lead Animator. Barbara Cipollone had to say about being involved in the series:
“Working on Hidden Figures has been a real honour for me. I have really enjoyed and found it amazing to have the chance to tell through drawings the stories of people that have played such an important role in history but have been unknown for different reasons. Like discovering there was an Hollywood actress, Hedy Lamarr, who helped invent the wifi, or that was a 15 year old kid, Claudette Colvin, first defied segregation laws by refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a bus in 1955, made me work on this project with a special passion and involvement.”
Using Hidden Figures in the Classroom
To make it easier for you to use the videos we’ve created, I’ve created a list of the season 1 and 2 Hidden Figures videos. I’ve also included the video themes so that you can easily find videos that suit the needs or your curriculum.
Hidden Figures is an ongoing project, and this year we’ll be producing, you guessed it, a season 3. We’re still debating on who to include in this season. But as you can imagine there are some really good contenders.
Season 1 was created in collaboration with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and Driving Force Institute. At the moment these videos are being released on a weekly basis. Here is the link to check out the ones that have been released. The full list of videos and video themes is below.
|Marie Van Brittan Brown||women’s history, STEM, black history, 1960s, innovation|
|Stephanie St. Clair, AKA Madame Queenie||women’s history, black history, 1920s, prohibition, social justice, community activism, education, Harlem renaissance|
|Bob Fletcher||World War II, Japanese internment, good deeds, racism|
|Jovita Idar||women’s history, Mexican-American stories, racism, journalism, social justice|
|Frances Oldham Kelsey||women’s history, STEM, scientist, thalidomide, drugs, whistleblower|
|Nellie Bly||women’s history investigative journalism, travel, mental asylum|
|Hedy Lamar||women’s history, Golden Age of Hollywood, STEM, World War II, innovation, sexism|
|Jim Thorpe||Native American history, sport, Olympian, early 20th century|
|Claudette Colvin||women’s history, black history, segregation, Jim Crow, Civil rights|
|John Rollin Ridge||Native American, novelist, journalist, social justice, racism, Gold Rush, Cherokee Inidians, Treaty of Echota, Trail of Tears, outlaw, slavery|
|Bayard Rustin||LGBTQ+ rights, civil rights, black history, Quaker, Civil Rights Act, activist|
|Barbara Jordan||women’s history, black history, public speaking, politics, multiple sclerosis, Richard NIxon’s impeachment, activist|
Season 2 is currently in production. For this season we have collaborated with the New York Historical Society and Driving Force Institute.
All videos tell the story of women who have done amazing things in American history and form part of their Women and The American Story (WAMS) and the New York Historical Society student historian internship programme. What’s special about these videos, is that the teen leaders who were part of this initiative, co-produced the videos. Due for release later this year, here are the wonderful ladies that will feature.
|Chien-Shiung Wu||women’s history, World War II, Manhattan Project,Asian-American, STEM, scientist, racism, Nobel Prize|
|Elizabeth Freeman||women’s history, black history, abolitionist,slavery, American Revolution, patriot, freedom|
|Emma Tenayuca||women’s history, latina history, labor activist, Great Depression, racial inequalities, injustice, unionism, public speaking, Communism, FBI,|
|Ida B. Wells||women’s history,black history, journalist, anti-lunching activist, Civil War, slavery, Reconstruction,|
|Lorenda Holmes||women’s history, American Revolution, loyalist spy, torture,|
|Malitzen||women’s history, Aztec & Mayan empires, Cortes, interpreter, slavery, Spanish conquest, mixed race children|
|Thomas(ine) Hall||women’s history, colonial Virginia, LGBTQ+, gender non-conformist,gender norms|
|Zitkala-Sa||women’s history, Native American history, advocate, activist, civil rights,author, educator, Sioux Indians,Native Americans’ US citizenship|
Over To You
Now it’s time for you to explore the first season of Hidden Figures from our series Untold. A free collection of short, compelling history videos and animations designed to shine a light on the stories that don’t make it into the classroom.
For more information about Untold visit the website at untoldhistory.org
As a 17-year-old living in the cusp of protest, revolution and change, I am very proud and passionate about the BLM movement and trying to reform the police system in America. While many call them “riots” and discourage them because of violence, it’s important to look at the suffrage movement and its supporters who:
- smashed windows
- chained themselves to railings
- planted bombs
- slashed paintings
All to get their word across after constantly being demeaned by the government and the public because of their want to get the vote.
While obviously violence is the last resort and peaceful protesting should always be the way to go, sometimes the higher ups will not listen until you stir something up. Even worse you get attacked for peaceful protesting or denied services and you have to defend yourself. This topic is one of the reasons why I love history, and feel that people should learn about events that happened in the last century or so as history repeats itself. I’m sure that if they educated themselves on similar events they would be a lot more open-minded about the movement.
History and Culture
In general, history has allowed us to understand different cultures and how they react to topics like gender and sexuality. While most people in the western world like to think that gender is binary and biological, that is not the case. Not only would that be against the original coiners (John Money’s) description of gender identity, which is something more related to your feelings, but it completely disregards other cultures interpretation of gender where there are more than two. An example of this is in Native American culture where two spirits were people who combined both male and female activities in their tribe and took specialised roles such as being a shaman or healer. In some tribes the male and female two spirits are different, making there a fourth gender in their tribe, and two spirits commonly formed relationships with non two spirit people of the same sex, another contentious topic in the post-colonial world.
Sexuality was also a lot more fluid in other cultures and even featured in many myths, the most well known being Apollo and Hyancinthus, a greek myth about the relationship between the Sun God Apollo and his male lover. Even Heracles was bisexual, having around 9 male lovers known in myths.
There are so many different cultural interpretations of these topics that are not well known in the modern world which is the main reason I love history. It shows how factors like religion, locations and events can make one area of the map have a completely different worldview than the other. I really do think that if more people sat down with others who had different life experiences than them and talked, or even if more people were taught about these worldviews and events in school, our world would not be as divided.
History In The Classroom
This brings me to my biggest point, which is that classroom learning should teach more about different cultures and topics like homophobia, racism and transphobia. In many secondary schools, pupils are only taught the basic definitions of these topics but they never talk about recent examples or events. The Stonewall riots happened in 1969! If Marsha P Johnson, the Drag Queen who threw the first brick at police officers at Stonewall was still alive, she would only be 75 years old! The civil rights movement ended in 1968. This isn’t something that is old, this isn’t something that your great-great-grandparents saw.
This is something that was happening during the time of your grandparents, even maybe your mother and fathers! How are we going to learn if our newest generations keep thinking that this is all in the past and doesn’t happen anymore? One in five LGBT people experienced hate crimes due to their sexuality in the last 12 months, two in five trans people experiencing the same. This isn’t a thing of the past, and I feel if teachers taught about this in their history classes more people would be open-minded and ready to protest for change.
Over To You
After reading this, I implore you to look up a different culture’s history. Any at all. Pick the first one that comes to mind and see how their experiences and ideologies differ from yours. The more people have worldly knowledge about the people around them and how they can be more mindful and less hateful about something that other people cannot control, the more we will progress and truly become a perfect world.
Artifacts bring history to life because they help develop key historical skills.
“Artifacts engage students physically, emotionally and intellectually. [They] require the application and practice of twenty-first century skills. […] Transcend the limitation of language, age, gender and discipline [and] tell stories. Discovering and telling the stories of objects helps students assimilate data into an orderly pattern. Our minds recognize and remember patterns. Artifacts engage students in effective learning. In other words…Artifacts Teach.”William Virden, University of Northern Colorado
The Museum Of Artifacts That Made America
As a former secondary history teacher, I regularly used replicated and real artifacts in my history class. I used artifact boxes from museums, recreated archaeological dig on campus and even mummified a chicken. To tell you the truth, I took the study of material culture, real and fake a bit further than most of my colleagues. And, I blame my background in archaeology for this. It paved the way for a love of artifacts and a desire to use material objects in my history classes as much as I could.
Unfortunately, we don’t have collections of artifacts to send to schools. But we’ve created the next best thing: a growing collection of bite-sized videos called the Museum of Artifacts That Made America. This series tells the untold stories of artifacts that have played a significant role in American history. It explains the historical relevance and detail of the object and provides its significance and context.
From the first video game to a chapstick spying device to the cotton gin. Series 1 titles include: The A7L Space, Suit, the Negro Baseball League, DJ Kool Herc’s Turntables, Hamilton’s Writing Desk, the Chapstick spying device, The Stature of Liberty, The Skidi Star Chart, the Cotton Gin and the Harvard Printing Press, Five-Shot Colt Patterson, The First Video Game (Tennis for Two), Keds, Windshield Wiper, The Ruby Laser and Abraham Lincoln’s Top Hat.
Let’s Hear From The Production Team
Our production team enjoyed creating this series so much! The team included: Producer, Zoe Lack, Script Writer, Lee Henry, Lead Animator, Dan McGarrigle and Sound Engineer, Kevin Gillen.
“I’m really proud to have worked on the American artifacts series. It was a fun and rewarding challenge to try and visualize and bring humor to these stories of American ingenuity. I even learned a few things that surprised me, like using a chap stick as a spy device during the Watergate scandal or how the first tennis video game was created on an oscilloscope. I hope viewers get as much enjoyment watching them as I did in creating them.”Dan McGarrigle, Lead Animator
Using Artifacts Videos In The Classroom
Understanding the origins and significance of artifacts is so very very important. We take material objects for granted. But when we delve deeper it can be surprising what can be discovered. In fact, one of the most interesting class discussions I’ve ever had, was one we had about toilets. Yep, I said it, toilets. The discussion started in ancient Rome, moved to the development of the modern toilet, toilet habits, hygiene, social norms, disease and finally toilet humor. The students were engaged and interested and learnt so much that day.
But enough about me, here are three activities for you to use when using the Artifacts That Made America in your classroom.
Activity 1: Things You Didn’t Know
Use this activity before watching the video.
- Divide the students into 5 or 6 groups. Assign the group themes or topics. Either provide groups with a series of images, videos, still and articles about their topic, or give them some classroom research time to do some research. For example: if you were using the Chapstick spying device video, your five themes could be: The Cold War, President Nixon’s presidency, Watergate, Cold War Espionage, Key events in the 1970s.
- Using their assigned resources, each group will develop a list of five ‘things they didn’t know’ about their assigned topic. To create their lists, students can use large sheets of paper and markers or post it notes.
- When groups finish creating their lists, ask each group to share their five facts. Ask groups to provide evidence as to why the facts they chose are important to know.
- Combine each group’s list of five ‘things you didn’t know’ to create a collaborative list of Things You Didn’t Know. These can be displayed somewhere in the classroom, on post-it notes or digitally using a tool like Trello.
- This activity can be extended to incorporate less or more groups. But make sure that each group shares 5 things to the class.
Activity 2: A-E-I-O-U
Use this activity during and after watching the video.
- Explain the activity to the students before watching the video. They will watch the video, without taking notes and will be required to fill in an A-E-I-O-U chart afterwards. Tell the students that they’ll watch the video twice.
- Show the students the A-E-I-O-U chart and answer questions they may have about it.
- Watch the video, but do not let students take notes.
- Once the video has finished, ask the students to fill in their A-E-I-O-U charts individually, in partners or groups.
- Watch the video one more time, and allow students to further add to their chart.
- Get students to share what they learned, and discuss the questions that have been posed as a class.
Activity 3: A History Of [Your Town/City] In 30 Artifacts
This one has been inspired by a New York Historical Society teen project in 2012, which was in turn inspired A History of the World in 100 Objects. Get each student to choose an artifact that reveals a piece of your town or city’s history and write a story about it. When pieced together, the artifacts tell the story of the town/city’s history and demonstrate the important role artifacts have in telling that story.
Over To You
Now it’s time for you to explore the first season of Artifacts That Changed America. from our series Untold. A free collection of short, compelling history videos and animations designed to shine a light on the stories that don’t make it into the classroom.
For more information about Untold visit the website at untoldhistory.org