The Story of Pelagie iPad application was created to bring a face to the many brave African American women whose lives made a real difference in America yet, more often than not, remain faceless, left out of the history books. It is also an attempt to shed a more honest light on the experience of enslaved African Americans during the 1800s. By creating an application that can be experienced by an individual or a group and on-site as well as in a classroom or at home, The Story of Pelagie speaks to young people on their own terms – relating the events of Pelagie’s life in a way they can understand and with which they can identify. Supporting educational materials can be found at Amhouse.org.
Pelagie’s is a story of perseverance – surviving decades of enslavement before being emancipated. It is also a story of love, between an enslaved woman and white man of noble French descent, and of a mother for her children. Finally, it is the story of Pelagie’s strength and conviction in the face of prejudice and injustice. One setting in the story is the Bauvais-Amoureux House, located in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri. It boasts a rich past, including being the home to Pelagie, who was born enslaved, was emancipated, and embraced life with courage and wisdom that she passed on to her family.
California-based educator Don Strand — the great-great-great-grandson of Pelagie Amoureux — spearheaded the creation of a mobile application after launching the Bauvais-Amoureux House web site (Amhouse.org).
As he approached the mobile application, Don identified both challenges and goals:
- While an important landmark, the house is not enough to engage a visitor.
- He wanted to take advantage of a potential teaching moment.
- He wanted to bring the one-time inhabitants of the house to life, giving “history” a face and presenting both stark truths and hopeful lessons.
- He wanted the application to make history engaging, enlivening it and making it relevant to the lives of the students who would experience it.
Acoustiguide created a “modular” story structure user interface for telling The Story of Pelagie – one that incorporates both thematic and chronological approaches – as a way of addressing the multiple user-cases Don envisioned.
- Individuals can download and explore the application on their own device.
- iPad kiosks featuring the app are installed in the Bauvais-Amoureux House for individuals or small groups of visitors.
- The House also hosts larger groups with the application and its content streaming to widescreen monitors. Educators can moderate the experience and interaction, addressing specific subjects and facilitating discussions.
- A similar presentation can be implemented by educators in their own classrooms.
- Activities/interactions are woven into the modules to inspire thought and discussion. Some examples are:
- Define the word “freedom” then and now
•Analyze a court case
•Identify negative stereotypes and how to dispel them
•Study an important period in American history
•Listen to Pelagie’s present day descendants, both black and white
The iPad application includes text, audio with timed slideshows and video content (re-purposed and edited from existing video), as well as question and answer audio/video segments. Users and moderators can navigate through content modules grouped according to the subject and theme, or chronologically by scrolling through a timeline to individual events. Users can take in the whole story, explore curated subjects, or visit key moments, making for an engaging and personalized experience.
Released last spring, The Story of Pelagie caught the attention of a group of students in Ste. Genevieve, MO. The young people, who were already mounting a school and social-media driven anti-bullying campaign, found the app’s subject, the life of Pelagie Amoreux, eye-opening.
After learning about her experiences as a slave, as well as the attempts to oppress her after she was emancipated, the students realized that bullying has a long history. But hearing how she stood up to those would-be bullies throughout her life provided inspiration.
The application for iPads is available for free on the iTunes store and can be accessed using the following link:
Acoustiguide and Acoustiguide Interactive