Ok, well, I did not go back to take a class, but rather to assist, by sharing what all we have in the Lucy Bensley Center for the High School group to use in their research projects. all the rules of writing a paper and what would be a primary source and how to document it.
What joy I had … on the first day, I brought a box of artifacts to pass around. We then placed a item on each table and the students were to decide what the item was and what it was used for. Some items they guess right away, like the old ice skate which was wooden, with a blade on it, pin cushion, and a few others items that were easy… I thought they would get them all, but I was surprised! The old candle mold, with a chunk of beeswax stumped 50% of them, they as a group worked that one out, a ink well, had some funny answers for that item. The items that seem to stump them all were…. a salt well, a small dish which would have had a very small spoon to use to dip into the salt and then spread it on the food, a sander for when you wrote with the old ink, the top two that were the hardest for the class…. are you ready? A old fashion can opener… the type you jam in and use muscle power to go around the can, and the number one stumper of all time … is…. a sock darning egg! Oh even as a class, and they all tried… could not guess that one.
I went back for the second day of primary resources I took some old photograph albums, old maps, and old bound newspapers. The photographs were fun to look at and they as a class learned that you can date the photographs sometimes by looking at the clothes, hairstyles, toys that might be in the photo, and the names on the bottom or back of the photograph showing who took the photo and where they might be located. They like me understood the frustration when you get a box full of wonderful photos… with no names on them to indicate who was in the photo or even where they were. We talked about different types of photos and how they progressed… just a mini lesson. In one of the albums was a photo of Glen Warner… you know Pop Warner…. I now officially feel old. A lot of the kids had no idea who he was, I explained how he was a football coach and that some of the fields were named the Pop Warner football field, and how because of him, football rules were either refined or created, and how he was a artist as well. I was bummed that no one seem to know him.
Then we had went thru the two atlas I brought in .. one in 1866 and one in 1880. They got to compare the two and were surprised to see that some of the town names had changed and were spelled differently. The kids had fun trying to find where they or their grandparents live, and saw where some of the road names came from the people who lived in the area. East Hamburgh is now Orchard Park, so we challenged the group at that table to find Orchard Park on the 1866 map, which was not there…. that was fun.
The two bound local newspapers I brought in were both published in 1921, in Springville, One was the Springville News and one was the Springville Journal and Herald. I had them compare and contrast the papers side by side, as it was marketed for two different group of people so the articles reflected that. For example, In Springville we got a new firetruck. Both articles in the papers made the front page… one talked about the “workings” of the firetruck, such as how much water it would carry, dry chemicals it carried, size of the engine, how far the water could be shot…. the other went into who would be driving it, where it would be stored, how much it was. Then the kids just went through the paper and looked at the ads, articles and such that were in the paper. They were amazed.
I went back on more time with several pre 1900s bound newspapers for them to look at. It was interesting to see which group ( they worked in teams) went for different things that were in the paper. One group seemed to focus on ads, and how they were all written in the same font, same size and just gave basic facts, sometimes not even given the location. Others went for the personal columns the paper had, and were tickled to see that they would write down when someone came into town to visit someone living here, or that they had mail they needed to pick up. Another group was fascinated with the “world” news of the time, and Another group thought it was funny that when you died your age was in the paper as X years, X month, and X days. They thought that was great when you were researching your family genealogy and you could find out when someone was born. Also the 3rd time I went… One boy had actually done a little more research and told me what he had learned about Glen Pop Warner. How exciting that he had done that.
If all I do it touch one young person, to learn a little more about the past I feel like I struck a gold mine! I want to thank Frontier High School for allowing me to come in to Mrs. Blood’s room and share all of this with the students. I hope that they enjoyed it as much as I did showing and talking to them. I will tell you that these were the most behaved, attentive kids I have seen in a long while…..so thanks goes also to these great students. I am looking forward to getting to go to some other schools and do the same!
One choice at a time, and boy oh boy… this one was a great choice!