Becoming America: Thinking through Identity, Culture, and Traditions in Early America

About this Online Resource

About this Online Resource

Entrance to the Becoming America exhibition with ceramic jars on tables displayed along one windowed wall and metal tools hanging on another wall.

Becoming America: Thinking through Identity, Culture, and Traditions in Early America is a series of interdisciplinary, object-based investigations into different themes in early American art, culture, and humanities. This resource emphasizes the value that objects provide as primary sources for inquiry, and how to approach object investigations like a historian, or art curator. In each unit students work with a variety objects from the Fielding Collection of Early American Art and study the physical, cultural, and social context of art and artifacts. Through this process students can make more personal connections to the past by putting objects in a particular time and location and how to make sense of them in their own lives. 

Learning Objectives 

  • Explore the life of items in the Fielding collection through "Object Stories" and visual narratives that layer objects with primary sources from the Huntington Library
  • Experience innovative object investigations to practice inquiry skills
  • Engage in an application of knowledge through creative responses to help make connections to life in the past

Unique Features

Throughout this resource you will find a variety of interactive components that can be used as standalone components of a lesson or combined to create your own rich experiences with objects from the collection.

  • Object Stories present a wholistic view of the object in an easy-to-read format. Background information includes the social and cultural settings in which the object played a part, and other key details on its physical features or details. Every object story has suggested Questions for Discussions and Activities to connect the object to an essential question or understanding.
  • Interactive Images provide an opportunity to gain more details and insight about specific features of an object. The interactions connect various parts of an object to more background information, key people or locations connected to the object, and provide points to expand investigations.
  • Many Object Stories also provide opportunities for closer looking with zoomable images, 3D renderings, audio, and video files.
  • You'll also find suggestions for activities that are connected to themes and objects, as well as a full list of references and resources for further exploration.

Connecting to Curricular Standards

Our object stories, suggested activities, and interactions are linked to a variety of curriculum standards and include general suggestions for grade level application. Curriculum connections can be made to:

  • The College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards (C3),
  • the National Art Education Association’s National Core Arts Standards (NCAS),
  • the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) Framework,
  • and the State of California History-Social Science Framework (CHSSF).
Featured Images
Download this packet containing images with captions featured in the Becoming America resource.