Through a project called Visualizing Cultures, launched in 2002, MIT faculty explore, as the project link describes:
. . . the potential of the Web for developing innovative image-driven scholarship and learning. The VC mission is to use new technology and hitherto largely inaccessible visual materials to reconstruct the past as people of the time visualized the world (or imagined it to be.)
The 2008 course centered on this project is summarized:
Using new technologies, Visualizing Cultures weds images and commentary to illuminate social and cultural history in innovative ways. A narrative “Core Exhibit” not only gives the historical significance of the images, but also addresses issues such as genre and medium. Each unit comes with a comprehensive curriculum and carefully annotated digital archive of images from public and private sources.
The VC course is a superb learn node because it connects richly to closely related webpages that offer high quality knowledge substance. An example of a wonderful part of this VC network is a 2004 MIT project: Black Ships & Samurai: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan (1853-1854). To round out this learn node with something for those who prefer text to pictures, a detailed historical essay on Perry’s Japan arrival can be found in Fordham University’s Modern History SourceBook: Commodore Matthew Perry: When We Landed in Japan, 1854.