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Going to the Show: Lesson Plans

Image Analysis through the use of photographs, postcards and illustrations of the Bijou Theatre in Wilmington, North Carolina in the early 1900s

Introduction  |   Activities 1 - 2  |   Activities 3 - 4  |   Learn More

Activity 3: Compare and Contrast: 30 minutes (15 minutes per image pair comparison)

The final activity will be conducted as a class.
The teacher should hand out copies of all three images to all students, so that they can see them side-by-side.

3a. Compare/Contrast the photograph and the postcard:
This will be the first time that the students will see the photograph and postcard side-by-side. The postcard is based on the photograph, and students should immediately note some key differences such as the photo is in black & white while the postcard has been "colorized", the postcard has removed some aspects of the photograph - what's missing?, the postcard has added some new elements - what's new? After identifying the key differences, return to the introductory discussion, and ask the students why they think the postcard has been "image edited?" Who published post cards? Who was the target market for postcards? Who purchased post cards? Where did post cards go after they were purchased? You may want to wrap this activity up by asking students to read the brief essay on Picture Postcards that's provided in the UNC DocSouth Going to the Show web site:

Lastly, discuss how this image editing is analogous in today's world. Do we ever see an unaltered photograph today? Can we really trust any published "photographs" that we see?

3b. Compare/Contrast the photograph/postcard and the illustration

As the photograph and postcard are essentially the same image, they can probably be used collectively to compare/contrast with the illustration. Remind the students that this illustration was part of a Bijou Theatre advertisement. Go through the same types of analysis of discussing key similarities and differences, and ask why? What is the purpose of an advertisement versus a postcard? You may want to wrap up this activity by showing the students the full advertisement that the illustration was taken from:, and briefly touch on the additional information that the advertisement provides.

Lastly, explore if students can think of any examples of illustrations being used today.


For students who are interested in a "look" at the interior of the Bijou Theatre, refer them to the following news clippings

Fine New Theatre (Wilmington Dispatch - 12/8/1911)
Bijou Opened Last Night (Wilmington Star - 5/31/1912)
Pipe Organ Installed (Wilmington Star - 1/21/1917)

Or for just a general historical synopsis of the Bijou Theatre:
Motion Picture History in the Making in Story of Local Theatrical Moguls (Wilmington Dispatch: 4/13/1919)

Activity 4 (Optional) Photographic Touch-ups

  1. Have students take a trip through their "downtown" area and take some photos.
  2. Instruct the students to consider the photographs as marketing "advertisements" for the area. Ask them to identify elements that should be removed or added to make the photograph more "attractive".
  3. Use an image editing tool to "enhance" the photograph, simulating the touchups that were done even on early photographs.


Teachers might want to conclude the session with a 5-minute collective wrap-up discussion and ask the students to share: What was most interesting? What was most surprising? Did it make them think about the use of images and image processing today any differently? Are there any major historical or contemporary questions that their explorations generated? Where might they go to get answers to those questions?


Royal Theater and Orton Hotel: 119 N. Front Street

Royal Theatre – Photograph Orton Hotel + Royal Theatre - Postcard 
Direct Link to Picture  Direct Link to Picture 
Date: After 1915 --- when the Royal Theatre opened  Date: ???  
note bicycle on left, it looks like a lady with a child on the right  Orton Hotel + Royal Theatre - Postcard (more Artistic rendering) 
Royal Theatre Photo  Royal Theatre Postcard 

Architect's drawing of the Royal Theatre entrance

Royal Theatre Drawing

N. Front Street, Atlantic National Bank Building

N. Front Street looking north, just south of Princess - photo  N. Front Street looking north - postcard 
Direct Link to Picture  Direct Link to Picture 
  Publisher: unknown 
White "distinctive" building on the left is the "The Gilbert" building  White "distinctive" building on the left is labeled as the "The Gilbert" building on the 1910 Sanborn maps, and also housed the Atlantic National Bank, which was renamed the People's Savings Bank between 1907 and 1909 
Gilbert Building 1 Gilbert Building 2

Post Office and Murchison National Bank Building
located at N. Front Street at Chestnut

(> 1914) Brownstone Post Office "photographic" postcard - view of rear of post office and Park, looking east  Brownstone Post Office - Postcard: view of rear of post office, Chestnut Street west of Front St, looking east 
Direct Link to Picture  Direct Link to Picture 
>1914   >1914 (source indicated 1900-1915) 
Brownstone Post Office Postcard 1  Brownstone Post Office Postcard 2 


Assessment will be based on the student's image analysis worksheet and their participation in the compare/contrast discussion. Teachers can determine how much weight each part of the lesson and what specific rubric to use based on their own teaching / learning priorities and classroom practices. The following questions will help you think about how to assess a student's work for various parts of the lesson:

Image Analysis Worksheets:

Discussions & Classroom Activities:

Introduction  |   Activities 1 - 2  |   Activities 3 - 4  |   Learn More