HistoryConnect Program List 2015
Using primary sources as well as replica artifacts created by Mattaponi Indians, students will learn about what life was like for Woodland Indians by examining the Algonquian speaking Powhatans in Virginia before the first English settlers made it their home. The Powhatans serve as an excellent example of Woodland Indian culture that dominated the eastern United States prior to the European contract. This program will feature a discussion about Pocahontas and the myths associated with her life. Much of what historians now know about her and the Indians we call “the Powhatans” is derived from English sources, as the Powhatans had no written language. The presenter will examine at the reliability of these English sources in a discussion of what mysteries still remain about these people.
Creating a New Government: Famous Virginians, Founding Documents
Virginians played an essential role in the creation of the new American nation. From actions during and following the American Revolution to ideas and documents that established the new country, Virginians were involved at every point. During this program participants will learn more about the lives of Virginia’s founding fathers, such as George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Mason, while also examining some of the most important documents in American history: the Declaration of Independence, the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, the Virginia Declaration of Rights, and the United States Constitution.
In 1763 Virginia stood as one of the central colonies in Great Britain’s empire. Twenty years later the Treaty of Paris was signed, ending a military and social revolution. Our understanding of freedom, liberty, patriotism, and nation today is directly related to the roles patriotic colonists played in establishing American independence. This program examines the economic and government structure of life in the colonies, explores the impacts of British taxes and tariffs on the colonials, and investigates the roles of Virginians in declaring independence and waging the Revolutionary War. The audience will examine specific individuals and situations to promote an understanding of the Revolutionary experiences of many of our Founding Fathers. Famous Virginians such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and George Mason will be discussed as well as lesser known individuals like Anna Maria Lane and James Lafayette.
The Making of America: Expansion, Reform and the Westward Movement
While Virginia was establishing her claim to being “the Mother of Presidents”, nearly a million Virginians left the state between the Revolutionary and American Civil wars. This program examines the contributions of Virginians to the new Republic (Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.) as well as the nineteenth-century movement of Virginians to the West and their contributions to settling the American frontier. Using primary sources from Virginians who traveled west, along with reproductions of objects that might have been found on a settler’s Conestoga wagon, students interpret the great migration from Virginia in the decades before the Civil War. This program also looks at the movement of African Americans during the time period, both via slave trade and the Underground Railroad.
John Robertson Maben and the Search for California Gold
In 1849, John Robertson Maben traveled to California in search of gold. In a series of thirteen letters, Maben describes his travels to his wife, Sarah. These letters are especially vivid as Maben was witness to events both momentous and mundane. He wrote of the cholera epidemic of 1849, the great St. Louis fire that same year, and the excitement and brutality of the California gold fields. In this program, participants will join Maben on his journey, interpreting his letters, tracing his travels on a nineteenth-century map, and examining the landscape.
Virginia stood at the center of a military and social revolution. How we define freedom, liberty, patriotism, and nation today is directly related to the diverse experiences of the individuals who participated in the Civil War. This program will discuss various aspects of the Civil War, including life on the battlefield, life on the home front, the roles of medicine and technology in the Civil War, and the parts that African Americans, American Indians, women, and children played in the war.
Saving Private Scott
Sometime on September 17, 1862, Private Benjamin I. Scott of the 18th Virginia Infantry was killed at the battle of Antietam. However, his fate remained unknown as his body was one of almost 300,000 that remained unidentified in the Civil War. In this program, students will explore a mother’s agonizing search for her missing son as revealed in the letters of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Union General Joseph Hooker, and a number of other Union and Confederate officers as they tried to determine Private Scott’s fate. The story of Private Scott has been published recently in the Pulitzer Prize-winning work, This Republic of Suffering.
Two years of fighting changed what the American Civil War was about. Beginning in 1863, the North no longer fought only to save the Union, but also to end slavery. Lincoln believed ending slavery was the only way to win the war and not have to fight again. This program focuses on an examination of political cartoons and paintings that highlight Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the end of slavery. Particular attention is paid to the role that enslaved African Americans played in their own emancipation. Through guided historical inquiry participants are introduced to political cartoons as primary sources. They will engage in primary source analysis, and interpret the importance of these sources while learning about their historical context.
Rebuilding America: Reconstruction
After the Civil War, Virginians eagerly embraced economic development and technological change while resisting political and social change. Indeed, as Virginia moved forward in many ways and living standards improved, society was rigidly segregated by race. This program examines the ways in which Virginians and other former Confederates dealt with rebuilding and reunification after the Civil War. Particular attention is paid to the impacts of the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments, the origins of Jim Crow, and other steps taken to disenfranchise African Americans and poor whites.
Using photographs and primary sources throughout the twentieth century, this program is designed to examine changes in Virginia’s society and politics. We will explore context clues from these photographs to develop an awareness of the changes that occurred across the commonwealth during the 1900s. Historical themes such as education, industrialization, urbanization, transportation, and the changing roles of women are explored. Participants will learn how World War I, the Great Depression, World War II, and the Cold War accelerated the integration of Virginia back into the national mainstream.
Slavery and Emancipation: The African American Experience in Virginia (Part 1)
This program examines the African American experience in Virginia from the earliest sighting of Africans in Virginia in 1619, through the seventeenth century beginnings of enslavement to emancipation. In addition to the history of the institution, this program will bring a focus on African cultural traditions like music, family celebrations, and foodways; students will learn some of the many African and African American responses to slavery, including Nat Turner’s rebellion, the Underground Railroad, and John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.
From Civil War to Civil Rights: The African American Experience in Virginia (Part 2)
Emancipation and the end of the Civil War brought promises of equality for African Americans in Virginia and throughout the South. It took the better part of a century for those promises to begin to be realized. This program will identify and examine the effects of segregation and “Jim Crow” on life in Virginia for whites, African Americans, and American Indians. Participants will also discuss the social and political events in Virginia linked to desegregation and Massive Resistance and their relationship to national history.
Broadsides are posters (image and/or text based) designed to inform or educate the public. They exist in forms such as advertisements, poems, ballads, and public announcements. Truly ephemeral in nature, broadsides were mostly intended for immediate use and then discarded. Using broadsides for research, teaching and learning develops skills such as critical analysis, critical thinking, historical analysis, and textual analysis. These primary sources provide a connection to the past as they “speak for themselves” of events, concerns and issues of the time. This program will use broadsides to explore change over time. This program can be customized to a particular region or historical era.
Ask…Virginia Historical Society
The education staff of the Virginia Historical Society is at your disposal in this program. Spend time talking with and interviewing a historian about any part of Virginia history. This highly interactive discussion serves as a perfect refresher for end of the year testing. This is also your opportunity to choose a topic and request an expert to interact with your class on a tailor-made presentation. We also welcome suggestions for other topics/specialties to serve your class’s area of interest.