AUSTIN, Texas—A Web-based Presidential Timeline filled with digitized artifacts and historical archives from all of the U.S. presidential libraries has been created through the efforts of the 12 presidential libraries of the National Archives and Records Administration, the Learning Technology Center of The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education and the UT Library system.
The interactive Web-based Timeline is based on the administrations of 20th century American presidents and is unique in giving educators, archivists and the public one spot where the 12 presidential libraries’ impressive array of digitized assets can be accessed.
"We realized early on that this Timeline would be of interest to a very broad user base," says Dr. Betty Sue Flowers, director of the LBJ Library and Museum, "from K-12 educators in the U.S. to an international audience that can use the Web to learn about U.S. history in an engaging, entertaining way.
"We drew upon the expertise of individuals at each of the presidential libraries, K-12 teachers, university faculty, archivists, education specialists and top technology professionals nationwide to accomplish two very important goals – we wanted to exhibit the digitized assets in an educational, compelling way as well as develop educational activities that actually use the Timeline and enhance teachers’ various curricula."
The presidential libraries contributed primary and secondary source materials, many of which previously were available only to serious scholars. Contributions include audio and video clips, photos and documents, such as diaries, that offer a rare and fascinating glimpse into the daily life of an American president.
"One of the most interesting features of the Timeline is that it is built around key events in each presidency," says Dr. Paul Resta, director of the College of Education’s Learning Technology Center. "These are major historical decision points at which a particular president faced a crisis or other momentous event. We have designed the Timeline so that users can essentially assume the role of president for a moment and figuratively step behind the desk in the Oval Office, accessing audio files of President (Lyndon B.) Johnson’s phone conversations regarding the Gulf of Tonkin incident, for example. This is an exceptionally effective tool for encouraging students to analyze what they’re learning in history classes and is a great way of using technology to make history leap to life."
The Presidential Timeline Project was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as funding from the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation and UTOPIA, a digital gateway to The University of Texas at Austin’s educational resources. The College of Education’s Learning Technology Center and Terra Incognita Productions designed the Timeline to be fluid and dynamic, with additional resources and curriculum material to be added along with the assets of new presidential libraries.