The American Image: The Photographs of John Collier Jr. was developed with a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and College of Education’s Technology & Education Center (TEC) at the University of New Mexico collaborated with Ideum to develop this interactive website.

Most of the photographs that appear on this site were taken for the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information (FSA/OWI) during the war years of the 1940s. The FSA/OWI hired John Collier Jr. to document day-to-day life in America with a focus on issues of civil defense and public morale. The images that appear in the collection were taken from across the country, from New Mexico to Maine and provide a snapshot of ordinary life in those extraordinary times.

Lesson Plans

Activities offered on this website guide users through an in-depth examination of visual media. Active Looking encourages the process of close examination of photographs. Users will become more proficient at analyzing and decoding images for information – who might have created them, within what context, using what tools and for what purpose. The Shooting Script explores how an image may be categorized with regards to its subject matter and how our definitions and understanding of these subjects can change over time. The Propaganda Filmmaker brings it all together by allowing users to combine photographs, text, audio and video to create their own video mashup. Our goal is that these activities will build and hone observation skills that can then be used on visual images everywhere, in print and on screen.

The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

The Maxwell Museum was founded in 1932 as the Museum of Anthropology of the University of New Mexico, becoming the first public museum in Albuquerque. In 1972 it was renamed the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in honor of philanthropists Dorothy and Gilbert Maxwell, whose donation of funds made possible a major expansion of the museum that same year. With its associated research institutes – the Office of Contract Archaeology, the Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies, and the Maxwell Center for Anthropological Research – the museum represents a comprehensive center for cultural studies and public education.

Reflecting a broad mission that encompasses the entire history of humankind, the Maxwell Museum's collections are worldwide in scope, with extensive holdings from throughout North, South, and Central America, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands. With its primary emphasis on the Southwest, the Maxwell is world-renowned for its holdings from this region. The Maxwell offers to visitors an opportunity to experience the richness of human lifeways in all their diverse expressions, providing a setting for both education and enjoyment unique in our state.

Technology and Education Center

The College of Education's Technology & Education Center (TEC) was established to facilitate the integration of computer technologies into educators' instructional activities, the TEC inaugurated its services and activities in 2000. The center provides computer facilities and services to students, faculty and staff of the College of Education as well as associated educational communities. The TEC manages and maintains several computer labs available to faculty and students; additionally, the TEC assists faculty members in learning and modeling hardware, software and peripherals for instructional activities. Finally, in collaboration with outside organizations and funding sources, the TEC participates in a series of projects that explore the use and impact of multimedia technologies in education.