3D Digital Artifact Collection

Artifact-Based Lessons: Tourism

Are you looking for lessons that might work for you and your students as Spring Break, standardized-testing, and warmer weather approach? Here is a suggestion for you:

      1. Fred Harvey Soda Bottle:

  • Potential Topics: Railroad expansion, Westward Movement, Tourism, Women’s Independence, Marketing, Art and Culture as Commodities, Big Business in the 19th Century.
  • Content preview: Fred Harvey built the first national hospitality chain in the US. He did so in cooperation with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad. At major stops along the railroad he constructed hotels with restaurants. Fred Harvey soda bottle artifact.Each hotel had three places to eat: a high-end restaurant, lunch counter/diner, and a “take-out” sandwich and coffee bar. Travelers could choose where to eat depending upon cost and time. He employed young women from all over the country in his restaurants. They were called “Harvey Girls.” Employing the same approach as the textile manufacturers in Lowell, Massachusetts in the early 19th century, Harvey recruited only the most moral young women, and provided transportation, housing and meals along with moral supervision at his hotels. Harvey girls worked as waitresses in the restaurants, and changed the nature of the food service industry. His ideas also opened the American West to extensive tourism, transformed the art and culture of the American Southwest into a commodity, and opened the door for single women to travel and work on their own for the first time. Most of the food and all of the supplies for his hotels were made at his headquarters in Newton, Kansas and shipped (free of charge) to his hotel/restaurants. The bottle represents the centralization of his operation. It once contained a cola drink that became so popular the Coca-Cola Company merged with the Harvey Beverage Operation in order to sell its product across the United States.

      2. Classroom suggestions:

  • Use the bottle while you study the Lowell industry. The bottle and the context support documents will open the door to the discussion of women in society, and provide a more modern example with which students can engage.
  • Use the bottle in railroad expansion and the changes it brought to the US. Tourism stopped at the Mississippi River prior to the Harvey Houses because of the time, distance and poor service provided along the way. Harvey Houses/Harvey Girls changed all that.
  • The bottle represents horizontal integration in industry. What Rockefeller did with oil, Harvey did with hotels and restaurants.
  • The bottle is an example of the effects of the industrial revolution and the railroad industry in the United States. The Fred Harvey Company would not been possible or successful in 1850.
  • Use the bottle to discuss tourism and its effects on localities. The Harvey Company had an Indian Department to seek “authentic” Native American artifacts, promote them and sell them. The Harvey Company created a market for certain types of pottery and blankets. What happens when companies commodify culture?

Well, that should get you started in your thinking about artifacts and how they can be utilized in a classroom.  We’ll present more ideas later this week.



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  • “Every object has a story to tell if you know how to read it.”
    – Henry Ford
  • “Dealing with objects is a great way to teach the different steps involved in analyzing different kinds of materials. With just a little background, you can get students to engage with entirely new materials in extremely fruitful ways.”
    – Anita Nikkanen
    Harvard University
  • “Using objects helps students develop important intellectual skills.”
    – John Hennigar Shuh
    Curator, Nova Scotia Museum
  • "Whenever I used objects in my EFL classroom, I was surprised by how many questions I would get. I was especially excited when students who usually sat quietly were tempted to ask a question based on my object.”
    – Jenny Wei
    Specialist, National Museum of American History
  • When we examine the parts, we get a new perspective on the whole. There is nothing like holding a dinosaur bone, or the smell of cedar baskets…”
    – Burke Museum
    University of Washington, Seattle WA
  • “Every object has a story, right? Actually that’s a bit limiting. Every object has multiple stories.”
    – Rob Walker
    designer of Significant Objects and How They Got That Way

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