American Colony in Jerusalem, 1870 to 2006
The American Colony in Jerusalem, 1870 to 2006 is a diverse collection held at the Library of Congress and published on their website. It discusses, as the name suggests, the American Colony in Jerusalem, which was an attempt of several Americans to form a Christian utopian society. Eventually the colony was joined by Christians from other nationalities, including Swedish Christians, and did philanthropic works in the myriad of communities that exist in Jerusalem, including the local Muslim, Jewish, and Christian communities. The sources on the site extend from the founding of this colony to the early 2000s, when the colony no longer formally existed as an attempted utopia, but still influenced the community. They include manuscripts, letters, postcards, telegrams, diaries or journals, scrapbooks, printed materials, photographs, hand-drawn maps and ephemera from throughout that period and offer a wide-lens view of the history of the American Colony in Jerusalem.
This collection was given as a gift to the Library of Congress from the board of directors of the American Colony of Jerusalem, Ltd., where it can now be accessed by the general public. In addition to the primary sources themselves, the Library of Congress also displays articles and essays about the colony, giving context to the collection as a whole. Beyond this collection, the Library of Congress website is an open-access resource available for students and teachers to browse. It boasts a wide selection of documents, many of which are free to use. These documents include photographs, books, films, web archives, legislation and more, from a range of subjects and time periods. The Library of Congress also offers some lesson plans making use of primary sources they host, a blog describing teaching methods, and other resources to enhance both the student and teacher experience. These resources, combined with its easy to use platform, make it, as well as this collection, great resources and guides for use in the classroom.
The collection is useful for its variety of types of materials and focus of those materials. In a classroom setting, it might be used to study religion, as well as the history of Jerusalem more specifically. Especially considering the recent public consciousness of Israeli/Palestinan affairs, learning about the history of that region, including immigration and American influences there, can be useful for everyone, not just students, to better understand how and why the region functions today.