Web Quest: “Then & Now”

Davis Hall. Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute,
currently known as Virginia State University

Davis Hall VSU 1921

April 15, 1921

Davis Hall VSU 2000

April 14, 2000







The Task

Pretend that you are a detective, and you have been asked to research your school or community history. Your task is to discover how your community has changed throughout the years. To do this, you are going to use pictures to compare what your community looked like in the past to what it looks like now. To get started, you are going to look at some examples from around Virginia where schools and community buildings have changed throughout the years. Then you will do the same thing in your community, gathering and comparing as many old pictures of your school or community as you can find.


To complete your task you will need:

  • A camera or digital camera to take pictures of your school or community with.
  • The oldest pictures of your school that you can find.
  • The “Then and Now” Jackson Davis website containing pictures comparing buildings from a long time ago to what they look like now.

The Process

Step 1

Start by going to the “Then and Now” website found in the Jackson Davis database and look at the pictures that have been gathered by other researchers to learn more about the history of schools and churches around the state of Virginia.

Step 2

After looking at the pictures, answer these questions with your teacher and classmates.

  • In which sets of pictures do you see the most differences?
  • List all the differences you see.
  • What do you think happened inside these buildings when they were first built?
  • What do you think happens in these buildings today?
  • What do you think had to be changed in order to make these buildings useful today?
  • Looking at the pictures of the Amherst Indian Mission School, list some ways that the schools in the past are different from schools of today.

Step 3

With your teachers’ or parents’ help, find old pictures of your school, or some pictures of old buildings in your community.

Step 4

After you find the old pictures, go and take a current picture of the same building.

Step 5

After the pictures have been taken, get in groups of 3 or 4 and compare the two different pictures.

Step 6

When comparing the pictures, answer these questions:

  • List the differences in how the pictures look , what are the differences between the two pictures?
  • What do you think life would have been like during the time when this picture was taken?
  • List the differences you see in your pictures on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the biggest difference you found.
  • Pick a person to explain to the rest of the class what characteristic their group picked to be most different and why.

If you are comparing pictures of your school:

  • Who do you think went to these schools?
  • Do you think this building was ever used for anything else other than a school?
  • Does this building look anything like your school? What things do you see that are the same? What things are different?

Extension Activities

  • Research the history of your school or community building and create a timeline, report, or biography about the life of your school or building in your community.
  • Interview a grandparent, or community member to gain information about the history of your community.