Five Ways to Use Wordle to Teach the History of the Black Press
As print newspapers increasingly become less relevant in the day to day lives of young students, how can educators help them understand the instrumental role that the Black Press played in African Americans’ fight for civil rights? The open source program Wordle provides innovative methods to engage student in the history of black newspapers.
Wordle allows students and instructors to create words clouds from text that is entered into the program. It sifts through the words, organizing them into a pattern using the most commonly occurring words in the text. The user can edit the shape, colors and font in the cloud. If there are words that do not fit a desired pattern, users can remove them by right-clicking on the word.
There are numerous ways that educators at all levels might use Wordle to teach about the Black Press. Here are five ways to get started:
Welcome to the Black Press Research Collective (BPRC). The BPRC is dedicated to curating and producing knowledge about the historical and contemporary role of Black newspapers in the United States, African Diaspora and Africa.
The term “newspaper archive” can have several meanings. In the past few years, “newspaper archive” has evolved to describe an online collection of digital copies of articles from a newspaper. If you type “newspaper archive” into a search engine, you will see a large number of results, many of which link to free or paid sites that contain digitized copies of historical newspaper articles. Access to online digitized historical newspapers is incredibly valuable, sparing scholars many hours spent hunched over finicky microfilm readers. However, these articles are not all that newspaper archives have to offer.
People interested in conducting a thorough analysis of newspaper sources should consider the resources available in newspaper morgues. These morgues are composed of the supplemental materials contained in the physical archive of a given newspaper. Physical newspaper archives often contain additional materials that do not exist in digital newspaper archives. These materials may include bound volumes of the newspapers, newspaper morgue materials, institutional records, and personal papers of people associated with the newspaper. Currently, no physical newspaper archive has fully digitized these supplemental materials.
Archival newspaper morgues can answer questions which cannot be answered by simply reading articles published in newspapers. Scholars interested in how newspapers were received by readers, how reporters and editors decided what to publish, and the financing of newspapers will find these morgues incredibly useful.