New York Times spotlights Blackwell artifacts in magazine article on classroom technology

Photo of Acme 35mm movie projector

Acme 35mm movie projector

A photographer from the New York Times Magazine came to campus last month to shoot pictures of some of the artifacts found in the NIU College of Education‘s Blackwell History of Education Museum.

Editors at the magazine spotted the artifacts on the Blackwell website and asked Richard Casey, director of the college’s Learning Center, to ship the artifacts to New York City.

After Casey explained the cost of doing so, they sent the photographer to DeKalb.

The piece, called “Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom,” was published Sept. 15. Pictures taken at NIU appeared in a timeline of classroom technology called “The Learning Machines.”

Named after Ruth and Harold Blackwell in recognition of their generous support of the museum, the Blackwell obtained many of its first books and artifacts as donations from their collection.

Ruth Blackwell was a teacher in one-room schools in South Dakota during the 1930s and 1940s. Together with her husband Harold, a World War I veteran and lawyer, the Blackwells provided a significant endowment fund to the museum.

Photo of Bell & Howell Robomatic slide projector

Bell & Howell Robomatic slide projector

Today the Blackwell collection contains more than 11,000 textbooks that were used in schools, some more than 400 years old, including hornbooks, battledores, primers and readers as well as many other texts and reference materials.

In addition, the collection contains slates, pens, inkwells, samplers, prints, student work, report cards, and a variety of other documents, as well as a sizable collection of oral histories and technology used for educational purposes.

Beyond collecting and preserving educational artifacts and related material, Blackwell staff strive to exhibit these materials to the public in an interesting and informative fashion, to make the collections available to faculty and students for scholarly study and research and to collaborate with local schools and community groups in the study of educational history.

The Blackwell also owns and operates the Milan Township District Number 83 Country School, originally built in the 19th century and rebuilt in 1900.

Call (815) 753-1236 for more information.

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