Review Form - "Learning the Landscape: Deborah Lucas Davis on Growing Up in Harlem" (Responses)
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TimestampReviewer's Info Review TypeExploring the ExhibitGrowing Up in Harlem
Harlem Elementary Schools
Navigating Junior High School
Wadleigh Junior High School
Teacher-Student Interactions
Field TripsCivil Rights in HarlemNavigating High SchoolWadleigh ReunionsContentScopeUsabilityLayout and DesignAuthority and AudienceWriting
Optional: Additional Comments
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9/19/2016 12:10:39
Esther Cyna, Teachers College
Sequential Review
The colored selections stand out on the black and white map, which makes it easy for the reader to navigate by selecting points of interest. Perhaps the default view could be zoomed out a little bit.
Do we have a picture of Deborah Lucas-Davis? As in the exhibit about Barbara Wilson-Brooks, the picture is a strong start to an oral history-based exhibit. The audio clip is very helpful in that regard. The author could add a few key quotes in bold characters to go with the clip. It would be helpful to define Harlem at the beginning. Where is it exactly? What does it cover? If a definition or a framing of it can be found in the interview, that could be a great way to define Harlem through Lucas-Davis's experience.
This would be a good place to insert a picture of P.S. 10.
There is a lot of material about Wadleigh that could be added here to diversify sources. The article about the fair, for example, could be placed inside the text itself.
This is a great section because of the different sources presented throughout the page: audio clips, pictures, etc. Titles could stand out more with bold characters.
We have pictures of Mr. Lavergneau in the yearbooks; perhaps they could be added here.
The title "Teacher-Student Interaction" builds up expectations, and in fact this is more of an anecdote. Perhaps the author could develop this point based on the interview and more?
Pictures could be added here too.
Quotes from the interview could be added in the text so as to invite readers to play the clips to find out more.
This exhibit is based on an interview, and is thereby valuable because it delves into the experience of Deborah Lucas-Davis, who was a student in Harlem and is a Wadleigh alumna. It would be useful to flesh it out with other sources, from the yearbooks, the press, picture records and secondary sources.
The oral history focus is clearly stated. The scope of some of the sections (on teacher-student interaction) could be widened for the analysis.
The explanation of what Harlem means and covers can be added to the first page.
This is a very well structured exhibit with a strong use of Neatline.
The layout and design contributed to a better viewer experience, and reinforce the notion of navigating space.
There needs to be a "credits" page.
There should be a "reflection" section at the end.
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1/27/2019 16:03:45
Kimberly Springer, Curator, Oral History Archives at Columbia
Thematic Review
The exhibit makes the most of a a clearly gifted storyteller in Ms. Lucas-Davis' ability to recall and tell the story of her educational ambitions and journey. I thought the exhibit struck a good balance in hotow audio what used to explicate certain points, but wasn't over-explained in the text. I take it as a sign of a provocative project, and not one with gaps, that I have remaining questions that could be further research possibilities (e.g. Ms. Lucas-Davis' parents are mentioned much later and it sounds like she had to advocate for herself so parent power seemed limited to infrastructure concerns, not curricular ones?).
The balance of text, audio and primary source materials were just right for the format. I could see the exhibit being most useful for someone with a medium to high understanding of the historical education structures in the City. As someone with little to no knowledge of that, the personal retelling was informative, but I could use more information or links to historical explanatory documents (see next comment).
I'd find it helpful, in addition to the primary news sources provided, to have links to policy, such as the 1960s open enrollment policy. The policy is interpreted here, but as a site user, I'd like to be able to review the policy myself to see whether I agree with the conclusions drawn. Overall, though, the exhibit flowed well and the different sections were logical.
The text in the Navigating Junior High section repeats. I like the idea of having the oral history narrator read from something she'd written while in school. I found being able to zoom out and see the general area in which Ms. Lucas-Davis travelled informative.
Coming to the interview cold, it's unclear where or how the project is related to the Educating Harlem Project (I thought the project name had changed?). A short paragraph in the conclusion, or links to the broad project, would be useful.
Ms. Lewis' writing and analysis were nicely balanced through out. There was definitely deference to Ms. Lucas-Davis's interpretation of events, which left me curious about some structural aspects (what is a commercial diploma?. This is certainly a project I'd recommend as a good way to use and interpret oral history.
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2/15/2019 18:48:27
Dominique Jean-Louis, NYU/N-YHS
Sequential Review



Sequential review of the ""We Had Everything We Needed Right There": Growing Up In and Out of Harlem" exhibit by Author as part of the Educating Harlem project, Teachers College, Columbia University.
Exploring the Exhibit
Your answer

Growing Up in Harlem

Harlem Elementary Schools



Navigating Junior High School






I liked this section a great deal, the personalization of Deborah’s experience really enriches this opening salvo to the story being told.
The content is clearly explained, and the language is an appropriate match for public audiences. The author is successful at positioning the subject's memories within a larger debate about school and neighborhood segregation and resources. One of the strongest facets is the seamless blending of interpretation between primary source material and interpretative connections- in particular, the section on Harlem Elementary Schools blends oral history testimony, newspaper reporting, and Brittney's analysis seamlessly and with great care (for instance, the passage contrasting Deborah's recollection of the school being "full" against the newspaper reports of parent protests against "overcrowding."
However, I think what might help round this out is a larger sense of neighborhood demographics: if we’re talking about segregation, which groups are we discussing? How was the neighborhood divided up, ethnically and racially?
Such great anecotes and sparkling parentheticals here!! I loved the engagement with Deborah’s neighborhood and community as being a mitigating factor in her decision, and that it’s neither painted as personal decision nor “helpless to the trends of history”- it’s a bit of all three! In a similar vein, it would have been interesting to see more about the BOE’s decisions to make the choices they made- who was their community? Experts? We're there personal elements to their decisions? What historical forces were they operating under??
I love the variety of primary source documents here, and again, the personal experience and anecdotes really shine here. One thing that we maybe could benefit from is a little corroborating evidence on what perceptions were of Harlem schoolchildren at the time. I feel like I’ve seen some handwringing in newspapers and even in documents at the Board of Education that discuss the perceptions of teenagers of color in this time period, or at least the political minefield that was “respectability” (or that it is today!). For that reason, some kind of photograph also feels useful here?

In general, for accessibility reasons, it would be great throughout to link to excerpted transcriptions of the oral history snippets, so audio isn’t the only option.
I’m not convinced this needs to be its own section- since so much of the section prior deals with relationships between teachers and students, this section just seems out of place and lacking in argument. Especially given my feeling that the last section could benefit from photographs of the students themselves, this may be a useful fix. That being said, I would love a bit more connective tissue between aesthetics and the wider educational landscape of the time period, maybe reflecting A Girl Stands At The Door or similar?
I could have used a little more of Deborah’s voice in this section- I don’t disagree that Wadleigh teachers’ approach helped to expand Deborah’s sense of a wider city, but it feels a little heavy on the tell, lighter on the show here. Also is there any evidence of a “city-as-school” approach gaining hold in the larger culture? I know at least that so-called schools-without-walls were becoming more popular, is this related?
What a fascinating story, and what a useful engagement with it!! So often we tell the story of the ‘64 boycott as a “forgotten history” and Deborah...forgot! I think engaging with this anecdote as a way to reconsider the historiography of the event is terrific. Maybe an opportunity to engage the site-specific nature of NYC schools? I’m thinking of Heather Lewis’ work on demonstration districts, where she offers evidence of how the exact same radical policy had very different outcomes in Central Brooklyn, Harlem, and the Lower East Side. This also feels SLIGHTLY inside-baseball in terms of city politics- it might be nice to round out even more with where the Civil Rights movement is at that time so those familiar with the 60s civil rights struggle have an entry point even if they’re new to city politics. Maybe connect the two with the Freedom Riders? That might be a great way to highlight how Deborah isn’t the only NY-er who is thinking more nationally than locally

In terms of readability, this could use a little restructuring- the section itself islong, and the paragraphs are long- especiallyas it’s toward the end of the digital exhibit, you don’t want to encourage people to lose focus! I’d recommend splitting this section into 2, shortening the paragraphs, and maybe opening with an evocative photo (preferably in color) to jolt people back to interest in the content (maybe the three high schools?). I think navigating her curricular options can be its own section, one that maybe engages the historiography a bit about how tracking in schools begins in the first place. I think there are some evocative statistics about how students are tracked today that might be an illuminating piece of context
Again, in terms of readability at the end of the exhibit, I’d frontload the terrific photo at the top, and put the audio clip toward the middle. Demographics also become useful here, if I’m not mistaken, Wadleigh High had a very different racial makeup than the junior high, no? I think there’s a light bit of “who cares?” to the question of the reunions- I’m not left with a satisfying answer as to why they happen, what would be lost if they stopped- there’s more about the logistics of organizing, less about the stakes. I think connecting it back to the same emphasis on community and neighborhood and connection that the exhibit starts with could be useful.
A terrific job- can’t wait until it’s fully live, and everyone can enjoy as I have!!
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