Another Conversation with the Past

1872 Portrait photo of John Muir ((Bradley, H.W. “Portrait Photo of John Muir.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 29 Sep 2009. Web. 27 Nov 2009. <>. ))

As a former history teacher, I think that these conversations with the past — with Tweeple in History — are quite interesting and potentially they are enormous discussion starters in classrooms where discussion is used for learning.  A while back I wrote about one that involved John Adams diaries posted on Twitter on the days of the entries during “..a diplomatic trek to Russia as U.S. minister.”

I just learned that Calisphere, a service of the University of California with free primary source materials aligned with the California content standards, will offer a similar tweet trek in the voice (text) of John Muir, the California-based naturalist.

For one week in December, Calisphere will quote portions of the letters of renowned California naturalist, explorer, writer, and conservationist John Muir (1838-1914) on Twitter and Facebook.

Hear John Muir in his own words as he travels to California, encounters Yosemite for the first time, and struggles to preserve the open land he made his home.  Starting December 1, for a week Calisphere will quote portions of the letters of the renowned writer and conservationist on our social media pages. Each installment or “tweet” will contain a segment of Muir’s stirring prose and a link to the original document and transcript.

To hear Muir’s story, become a fan on Facebook ( or follow us on Twitter (  Not a member of either network?  No problem—both accounts are open for viewing by all.

This online event aims to engage students, educators, and the general public with the recent online publication of more than 6,500 of Muir’s letters—a joint achievement of The Bancroft Library at the University of California Berkeley and the University of the Pacific Library.  ((Berger, Sherri. “John Muir on Calisphere and Web 2.0!.” Message to David. 24 Nov 2009. E-mail.))

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3 thoughts on “Another Conversation with the Past”

  1. david- as a current history teacher, i have to say that i agree with you. i have done this the lo-tech way by posting quotes on the board and then discussing them with my students. i also looked at the john adams tweets but didn’t really use them in class. i will attempt to use the muir tweets to get conversation going. this will be nice timing as i am moving into the time period.
    i use twitter quite a bit and learn a lot from my PLN but my students aren’t really into it that much. have any of the rest of you seen a little resistance to twitter from kids? for the most part they tell me that they just don’t get it.

    1. You know, it seems that you probably wouldn’t have to be a state-wide association or university project to do this. If you could lay your hands on the diary of some notable in history (or science, health field, etc.) then you could organize one of these yourself, having your students select the most important entries and then post them on the corresponding day(s) of the calendar.

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