INTRODUCTION: Summer adventures make up some of our fondest memories. This collection contains items related to meaningful “exotic” summer adventures from three inter-connected people: me, my wife, and my father-in-law. The collection is also bounded by the Cold War. Some items relate directly to the Vietnam War and others are situated at the end of the Cold War.
CREATIVE AND TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS: Each image was taken with a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone camera (SM-6900V). Each item was placed on a blank white sheet on a circular wooden table. This was to avoid any contrasts. All angles attempted to capture the documents as objectively as possible with a zoomed in birds-eye view. However, it was difficult to get the camera to focus without adding a slight downward angle. Additionally, shadowing was a problem. It was difficult to avoid shadows without losing focus by turning off a table lamp. All pictures were taken with the idea of reducing the photographers role in the final product. I made the decision not to include the entire airplane itinerary as it became impossible to capture accurate pictures without blurring or without some pages bleeding through. The itenary was selected out of 4 possible pages largely out of the fact that others were impossible to capture adequately.
- Document Type: JPEG Images. File Size Range: 13.4 to 22.8 KB. Image Size: 2988 X 5312 pixels. Image DPI: 72 pixels/inch. Color Model: sRGB. Modifications: none
HISTORY: The Vietnam War saw the hopes and dreams of many tarnished. My father-in-law would have to put his dreams of becoming a professor of Eastern European history on hold as he was almost selected by his local board. To avoid heavy combat he enlisted in the Air Force. The other documents are also tied to the Cold War. The 1990 baseball game took place right as the Soviet Empire was crumbling. Revolutions had already taken their toll and the Soviet Union would collapse in full by 1991. The travel itinerary to the Arctic Circle in Norway took place during a period of transition. Europe was just beginning to understand what a post-Soviet world would look like.
THE COLLECTION: This collection contains images of my father-in-law’s military rations card during the Vietnam War. A New Orleans native, he had been planning on competing a graduate degree in history at Iowa State University. He got word that his local draft board was about to select him into the army, so he enrolled in the Air Force. He found himself on an unwilling adventure that set him on path for a new career trajectory. Soon he would meet his future wife through a common friend stationed in Turkey. She happened to be a native of my home city of Lowell, MA. They would raise their family together in Maryland; however, years later my wife decided to return to her mother’s home city and got a job at the high school I happened to be teaching at. Thus, the military rations card represents an important moment of fate for me. Without the Vietnam War my wife would not have existed. Other items relate to a Scandinavian airplane ticket itenary from my wife’s childhood that includes an advertisement for a hotel chain in the Soviet Union. She celebrated her birthday north of the Arctic Circle. Coincidently, I was celebrating my birthday on that exact day in my backyard in Massachusetts.The final item consists of a baseball ticket stub to Comiskey Park in Chicago. Years later one of my very first dates with my wife would be at the newer Comiskey Park when we went on a one-month long summer roadtrip to various baseball stadiums in the country.
PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS: Students can use these documents to understand the interconnected nature of people and historical events. We are all shapers of history and are shaped by history. These documents can be used within an inquiry investigation into the Cold War. Each provides some information in regards to the lives of individuals during the Cold War. Students may be encouraged to think about the impact of social class on the documents. My father-in-law was from an affluent white family and was able to effectively “dodge” heavy combat. Moreover, my wife’s childhood experiences of going to a major league baseball game and flying to Europe for a birthday are privileged. I would thus suggest using these documents to help students develop a more nuanced class consciousness. These documents can also be used in any inquiry on social history of the time. Baseball was then still the most popular sport in America. Although not evident in the sources, many people were still dressing up for flights. In fact my wife’s family was dressed formally for the flight. An extension activity could be having students bring in artifacts from their own families related to the Cold War. Students could create their own digital archives or even create and follow their own research agendas to dig deeper into particular phenomenon.