Teaching with Broadsides

Teaching with Broadsides


Broadsides, a common term we
hear when discussing primary documents. But what are broadsides? Well broadsides are a poster
sent out to inform the public. Here we have a
variety of samples. Broadsides can take
many different forms. One form could be
an advertisement. Another could be a public
announcement put out by the government. In this one we see
Civil War volunteers. This one is a home card put out
to inform the public that they need to reserve and cut
back on food during the war. It says “Save the wheat. Save the meat. Save the milk”. This one
supplements this home card. Here we have “Save the butter
by not serving too much to each person”. As you can see, broadsides tell
us a lot about a specific time period. Let’s actually take a look at
one and go through the steps in analyzing a broadside. It is very important to pull
all of the information off of a broadside so that students
understand the historical context of the time. First, we should
always look at the title. This one, “Great Inducements For
Volunteers In U.S. Service”. It’s broad and bold, and it
already tells us a lot of information. Second, we should
look at the picture. This one is
filled with symbolism. We have an eagle, the flag,
the arrows, the olive branch, totally screaming
patriotism, nationalism. We move further down and we
look at the narrative section. Here we have a lot of
detail pieces of information. We can see that if you
volunteer, you will receive $13.00 per month
for three years. In total with all the extra fees
that they are willing to pay, you would make $1,167 to
volunteer during this time. Now students might start to
ask some questions such as, “How much is that?” “What is it worth today?” Well if we do that calculation
we could tell students that’s pretty equivalent to
$29,000 to $30,000 today. We go on and look, that if
interested we can apply to James Reed in Lockport, New York. Down below in small writing
it also tells us that “Colored Volunteers” will receive
bounties if they volunteer. If students start to actually
research African American volunteers during this time, we
will find out that they, their bounty was $7.00 while a white
volunteer was 13 until after 1872 when equalized pay was
established by Congress for all military
volunteers at that time. Let’s take a look
at a second one. This one is an advertisement. This advertisement is showing
cheapest excursions to Buffalo and return, October 24, 1901. We go on to see that a variety
of locations people could travel to Buffalo. If you look here, Boston to buy
a ticket from Boston to Buffalo in 1901 it was $7.50. If we actually look and research
we would find out that that train ticket today
would cost $117.00. But students might ask, “Why
would all these people across New York State and New England
want to travel to Buffalo in 1901?” Well let’s move further down
and read through some of this narrative. We find out that the
Pan-American is going on at this time in Buffalo, New York. What is the Pan-American? It is the World Fair. This attracted over 8
million people to this area. So you could see that this
advertisement would be big news to a town. When students are researching
they might actually discover a piece of history. A piece that they might find out
is that President McKinley was assassinated and shot
in Buffalo in 1901. Here is a second broadside
representing that event. This one is a proclamation by
the Governor of New York stating that September 14, 1901 should
be a day of mourning for the state in honor of the
deceased President. Also we know that
broadsides exist today. Broadsides, like we
said before are posters. We see them in
campaign material. This one 1984 is very unique
because this one from Mondale and Ferraro is
printed in Spanish. It offers a second language,
trying to attract people that speak a different language and
inform them of the campaign. This one here “Democracy: It
Still Works, If You Work At It, Register To Vote.” This one was published in four
different languages in 1976. Once again, you can see
broadsides were here to inform the public. So bring a broadside into your
classroom and let your students explore a day in history.

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