Teaching Earth Science One Hundred Years Ago

Before Prezi® or PowerPoint® and even before overhead projectors, teachers used glass lantern slides for educational presentations. In the 1850s the Langenheim brothers developed and patented the technology of transferring photographic images to a glass surface for projection. By the 20th century this medium was widely used for educational purposes, but lost popularity by the 1950s.

Special Collections & Archives holds a set of lantern slides originally used by a Boise High School teacher from 1902 to 1917. Edward F. Rhodenbaugh, geologist and amateur photographer took extensive photos and field notes during his long tenure as an educator throughout Idaho, Oregon and Ohio. The lantern slide set combines international geological teaching examples with scenes of Idaho’s unique geologic attributes.

After teaching at Boise High School, Edward went on to work for the State of Idaho as the state chemist. It was during that time when he submitted forensic evidence to the infamous Lyda Southard murder trial of 1921. After retiring as the head of chemistry and geology at the Idaho Technical Institute (Idaho State University) Rhodenbaugh moved back to Boise in 1940. He quickly returned to the work force – teaching geology at Boise Junior College.

A new online digital collection highlights some of Rhodenbaugh’s photographs, field trip journals and lantern slides. The online collection includes many scenes of Idaho wilderness, unique rock formations, and emerging infrastructure including Arrowrock Dam and the North & South Highway (US Route 95).

To read more about the history of lantern slides visit the Library of Congress website

Jim Duran,
Special Collections & Archives

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