Today’s entry is going to take a look up north to two programs that give its area youths a solid foundation from which to understand their hometown’s place in national and world history.
The Windows on History was started in 1998 when the University of Massachusetts‘ Center for Educational Software Development (CESD) started to expose primary and secondary students of the regional school systems to primary source materials about places and events from their community’s history. From there the students got the ball rolling by exposing anybody with access to the internet to local stories through the creation of their own webpages that utilized these primary materials.
The project was expanded across all of Western Massachusetts in 2005 when the Hampshire Educational Collaborative teamed up with the CESD, the Department of History and the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts, the Historic Northampton Museum and Education Center, and the Springfield Armory National Historic Site and acquired a three-year Teaching American History grant from the U.S. Department of Education for the full Emerging America program.
December 2, 2008.
Emerging America – Teaching American History professional development events were then held for teachers across Massachusetts who then started digging up their local community histories through artifacts and primary documents that are shared with community residents online.
The Vermont Community History project also began in the late 1990s but instead of originating at a state university it was conceived through a joint discussion between the Vermont Historical Society, IBM and Verizon about how to involve local youths in learning the history of their communities. According to the website, with over 175 local historical societies in Vermont, many with collections not accessible to the general public because of space or time constraints, few opportunities remain that allow Vermonters to experience and learn about the past of their particular community. The “Community History Project” was created to address these issues.
In January 2001, the project director was hired to begin planning this initiative, and interviews were conducted throughout the state obtaining input on how local historical societies, schools, kids, and adults might come together to learn about a community’s history. Everyone interviewed had an opinion and wonderful ideas. The concept that evolved focused on young people and adults using primary historic resources to learn about a community’s story. Schools and local historical societies formed intergenerational teams that together decided on both the story to be told and the various ways in which to tell it, a combination that would emerge as the final piece, to be placed on a newly developed Community History web site.
Needles of the Pitch Pine Tree, found throughout Beachwood.
In March 2001, the Community History Project sent letters to all 175 local historical societies surveying interest in attending an informational session about the project. Over 20 local historical societies attended the meeting, and 10 historical societies representing 12 communities made a full commitment to the project. Teams were formed linking local schools to local historical societies.
Over the course of two years, from January 2001 through December 2003, teams met at the community level and as a full group, 6 to 8 times per year. Throughout the project, teams received training in curriculum development, technology, storytelling and collections care management. In addition to learning from professionals in the field, the teams (which were comprised of both youth and adults) also learned about working together in their own communities, resulting in many changes of perspective. “Kids” were seen in a new light as teachers of technology. “Old” people became important sources of historic information. “Dead” people “came back to life” to affect the present and future. Finally, folks had to learn how to put together the sources in the manner needed to tell the story.
Learning how to tell their community’s story presented several challenges for each group. The first was to decide upon which story they wanted to communicate. Once the subject had been agreed upon, kids and adults next needed to figure out how to get the requisite original sources. Finally, folks had to learn how to put together these sources in the manner needed to tell the story. Teams remained energized throughout the two-year project in a remarkable and exciting way, continually bringing new ideas and challenges to the table for discussion and assistance. Youngsters and adults representing 12 Vermont communities came together to create and/or strengthen a sense of place.
William Mill Butler, New York Times, October 26 1895
Clearly projects such as these would be a huge benefit and resource not only to Beachwood but to the entire Toms River and Ocean County area. Forming coalitions between elementary, middle and high school social studies teachers, Ocean County College and Georgian Court University history departments, the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission, all county and local historical societies and the New Jersey Historical Society would sharply increase the visibility and awareness of all our borough and our section of the state have to offer the larger American heritage. Local communities such as Beachwood should see its town leaders and residents draft letters to these educational leaders seeking ways to begin the formation of such partnerships and programs.
For your convenience, below you will find contact information for some of these community educational leaders. If you find yourself anxious to see a broader awareness of our heritage broadcast between our schools, organizations and communities, contact one or more of them and let them know your thoughts. Feel free to send them to this website or others like it. Volunteer to help. Tell them you want a stronger, better shared community heritage bond.
Following this information, you’ll see arguments from the Massachusetts and Vermont projects for why local history is important to everyone. If you have children, contact their professors and ask what they’re doing to engage the student body in discussions about our community’s past. We at the BHA will always be here to promote our borough but ultimately it is up to you to get involved and ask questions of ourselves and the direction we take in our hometowns. Our future depends on it.
Mr. Michael Ritacco, Superintendant, Toms River Schools – email@example.com
Mr. Joseph H. Vicari, Superintendant, Berkeley Township Schools – 53 Central Parkway, Bayville, N.J. 08721 – 732-269-2321 ext. 11
Triantafillos Parlapanides, Superintendant, Central Regional School District – firstname.lastname@example.org
Linda Epps, President and CEO, New Jersey Historical Society – email@example.com
Beth Mauro, Director for Advancement, New Jersey Historical Society – firstname.lastname@example.org
Margaret Renn, Curator of Education and Programs, New Jersey Historical Society – email@example.com
Tenisha Malcolm, Media and Communications Coordinator of Development, New Jersey Historical Society - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Tim Hart, director, Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission – email@example.com
Mr. Robert Garthwaite, Board President, Ocean County Historical Society – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. James Ricotta, Principal, Beachwood Elementary School – email@example.com
Ms. Kelly Josberger, Supervisor of Instruction, Beachwood Elementary School – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Tricia Moran, Principal, Pine Beach Elementary School – email@example.com
Ms. Jamie Jovanis, Supervisor of Instruction, Pine Beach Elementary School – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Paul Gluck, Principal, Intermediate South – email@example.com
Mr. Thomas Regan, Assistant Principal, Intermediate South – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Charles Evers, Assistant Principal, Intermediate South – email@example.com
Mr. Leonard Stanziano, Principal, Toms River High School South – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Lawrence McCauley, Assistant Principal, Toms River High School South -email@example.com
Mr. Brian Blake, Assistant Principal, Toms River High School South – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Mark Sullivan, Assistant Principal, Toms River High School South – email@example.com
DyAnn DeClerico, Director of Elementary Education, Berkeley Township Schools – 53 Central Parkway, Bayville, N.J. 08721 – 732-269-5707
Ms. Arleen Lippencott, Principal, Bayville School – 356 Atlantic City Boulevard, Bayville, N.J. 08721 – 732-269-1300
Mr. James D. Roselli, Principal, Berkeley Elementary School – 10 Emory Avenue, Bayville, N.J. 08721 – 732-269-2909
Mr. Harry Colangelo, Assistant Principal, Berkeley Elementary School – 10 Emory Avenue, Bayville, N.J. 08721 – 732-269-2909
Mr. Jeff Zito, Principal, H&M Potter Elementary School – 60 Veeder Lane, Bayville, N.J. 08721 – 732-269-5700
Mr. Daniel H. Prima, Principal, Clara B. Worth School – 57 Central Parkway, Bayville, N.J. 08721 – 732-269-1700
Mr. Bruce P. Orsino, Principal, Central Regional High School – firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. W. Laurence Browning, Assistant Principal, Central Regional High School – email@example.com
Mr. Timothy Murphy, Assistant Principal, Central Regional High School – firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Michelle Ramsay, Assistant Principal, Central Regional High School – email@example.com
Portion of the original map survey by A.D. Nickerson.
Massachusetts Windows on History Project
Local history engages us. It helps explain where we came from. How local communities experienced change allows us to understand larger themes of history. Local evidence enriches a story. A map of mills and homes expands our understanding of economic opportunity. Letters between local activists deepen our vision of democracy and public life. A drawing of a community leader expands our view of race and freedom. Through the Windows on History community service-learning projects, Emerging America helps teachers and students across Western Massachusetts seek out and tell their own local history and relate those narratives to national history. These online accounts tell about real individuals who lived at turning points in American history. They come alive through compelling narrative and engaging primary sources. Windows on History projects model the use of local history to support exemplary history lessons.
The stories on this site invite comparison between one another, with the stories of your own town, and with the national narrative. As each fragment of local history reveals the economic and political context in which it takes place, it illustrates significant ways that American institutions of freedom, democracy, and opportunity have endured through change.
Vermont Community History Project
Vermont has long been defined by its strong sense of community. But due to the stresses of everyday life, that special sense of community is eroding. For most people, time is a luxury, and when it is short, individuals/families come before community. As a consequence, both adults and children often feel disconnected from those around them their community. This “disconnect” affects today’s youth who struggle with issues of “fitting in.” The Community History Project addresses the supporting role that the preservation of local community stories can play in an individual’s search for connection and community. Preservation and sharing our stories strengthens our communities. As they tell their stories, people become connected to and engaged in the communities in which they live.
The “Community History” Project matters because it addresses the need for stronger connections both between young people and adults and individuals to their communities through the study of local history. Youngsters and adults come together to create/strengthen a sense of place by identifying primary sources and developing a story around an aspect of their community. We all need these connections to fully appreciate where we live; this project is one way of providing them.