Questions raised in workshop description:How do we attract visitors of different ages & interests?How to incorporate different learning styles – tactile, visual learners & so onHow to link history to art, history to poetry, science or math to history
Have you ever been told on the spur of the moment that you had to do something new?Do you get tired of seeing the same faces at all your programs?Maybe there’s a fairy godmother out there just waiting to give you money. Have you ever heard your staff say, “If I hear myself tell that story one more time, I’ll ____? “I can’t stand to hear myself give that talk any more.”So maybe the old stuff isn’t good enough. Perhaps not, particularly at a time when many organizations are vying for the visitor dollar. Relevance is vital.
What do you think of when I say Henry Longfellow? (wait for response). Nothing, a bridge? If you know he was a poet, then you probably think – children’s poet, long gone, not relevant! I can’t tell you the number of times people are amazed that George Washington lived here . Did you know there were slaves in this house?Or they ask if there are ghosts. Well, these are all opportunities. Here’s what we have done.
Let’s look at some of the ways we try to make our place exciting. These are not new ideas, but may just need a little tweaking.
But you don’t have to have professional actors do living history. These are middle and high school students – Concordant Volunteers. The students did research in our archives, interviewed family members, researched independently to create their characters. Each of these persons lived or visited the house. Would younger visitors respond to these students? You bet! All these young people from the past all lived in or visited the Longfellow House.
Are the interesting people all in the past and dead? No way.How can we get at information about the past to do historic interpretation?Interviews with previous residents of the house & descendents to supplement archival materials for their living history presentations.
Is there anyone here who hasn’t been on a historic house tour?How do they work? You’re led through the rooms, told not to touch, and often don’t get a chance to ask questions. And then you’re out the back door.Wait a minute!! I’ve got questions. Where did they go when they had to go? Where are the bathrooms? What’s behind that door?For school vacation week this year a ranger developed a tour called “Toilets, Closets, Attic,Basement.” While the tour took the form of a traditional house museum experience – a tour -- this was a new angle. Checking out the back halls, closets, and so on. People love to peek behind the scenes.
Now, let’s take the objects! Wait, we can’t take the objects. We can’t even touch them!What about the building? It’s the biggest object we’ve got. Let’s deal with that!We’re not open year round and people can’t get inside, but they can always walk the grounds and explore.This year to celebrate the house 250th birthday we looked at the building.
Each year the site participates in Cambridge Discovery Days. This year it was entitled: Cambridge: From the Ground Up to celebrate the buildings and architecture of Cambridge.
Talk about energizing your staff. This booklet was the brainchild of 2 student rangers at the house. They wanted something else to do. They were bored.The beauty of this kind of activity is that people can do it anytime. The house doesn’t have to be open. You don’t need extra staff. We always are getting the question, “Can’t I go through the house on my own?” Well, no, but you can do this on your own.The student rangers also created bookmarks as freebies to people who completed the discovery.
They made the activity fun. Presented new words – contrasted them with familiar words.Do you have pizza on your piazza?Does your house need or have dentil work?
You knew I would have to get to poetry!
Rededication of the Longfellow House after a 4-yr. closure in 2002. Robert Pinsky, former poet laureate of the U.S. and local students who turned the poem “The Builders” into a rap poem – thus making it new again.
Do you learn by listening? I don’t. I’m a visual learner. Some people need to touch. In a historic house museum, good lord! No way.How about model making? If we wanted to get a scale model of the house as it was in 1759, we’d pay a lot of money. We got this on for free thanks to three students from Medfield.Their social studies project was a major effort. They had to select a historic house, visit it, research its history, measure its dimensions and create a scale 3-dimensional scale model and write a paper about the house. These students made two field trips to the house, physically measured the outside dimensions, studied floor plans, researched on the Historic American Building Survey website to view the measured drawings.
While we’re on the subject of measuring things, how about looking at the landscape and consider the trees.
What does Japan have to do with this colonial house in Cambridge or this 19th century American poet?Let’s look at the family and their travels.Students from SHOWA volunteered.
Objects – we can’t touch them, but we can make replicas. On the left is a paper object from Japan with the image on the reverse side next to it. On the right is an activity of paper folding which the children worked on during the Japan Cultural Day. They colored the images on both sides and then folded the paper so that various images became visible on the opposite side.
I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here and present some of the ways we at Longfelloe NHS have tried to make our story more interesting, to attract new audiences, and to give learning experiences to our guests who all learn differently. Thanks.
If you’ve ever met a costumed interpreter (even Mickey Mouse at Disneyworld), how did you react? You probably felt pretty comfortable about getting into the fantasy of the experience. Pretending, which is so natural to a child, gets lost as we grow up! Living history interpreters free us from our defined roles. We’re free to be anyone. And don’t we all love that idea of traveling back in time? I got to meet President Lincoln this summer (with about 150 other people). How did we all react to the experience? When he and the First Lady walked into the performance space, everybody stood! And when he took questions, people asked serious questions about the Civil War. This kind of event does cost money. These living history presenters are professional actors from SoloTogether, a group that meets regularly at the site.
There are many layers of history at the site – colonial, Loyalist, American Revolution, 19th century poet, and 20th century family. This year we celebrated the 250th anniversary of the building of the house. Here you see the parlor of the house today and contrasted with an 1909 photo of family members celebrating the 150th anniversary of the house by reenacting a party which Gen. and Mrs. Washington held in the home in January 1776.
The building, the architecture! Not even considering who lived here, we can work with the building. What I hear from visitors, esp. those on the West Coast or Midwest, is the comment that here in Boston history is everywhere. We see it every day. Here’s an opportunity.These buildings are not all alike. Why is that?
This activity led to poetry. How accommodating Longfellow was! He wrote a poem about architecture. What a guy!
While we’re talking about poetry. . .let’s look at history through poetry. Take Longfellow’s famous “Paul Revere’s Ride.” Okay historians, maybe you think it’s infamous. It’s not accurate. Please give Henry a break. He knew it wasn’t accurate. That wasn’t the point. Okay I know what’s running through your minds right now, “Listen my children and you shall hear . . . Yadda, yadda. But why do we always have to look at history from our side? Turn the coin please.Did the Loyalists write any poetry about the Revolution? Oh, did they!
What did the loyalists say about these rabblerousers? What’s nice about this poetry is that it’s in the public domain. It’s not copyrighted. It’s free. We used this comparison exercise in a workshop for teachers at the Paul Revere House early this yea. .
Looking Through A New Lens--NPS
Looking Through a New Lens:Interdisciplinary Programs (even on a small budget)<br /><ul><li>Nancy Jones, Supervisory Ranger
Longfellow National Historic Site, Cambridge, Mass.</li></ul>1<br />
Why do something different?<br /><ul><li>Directive from above
What’s your story?<br />Shatter expectations!<br />Home of <br />_______?<br />Slaves or<br />Servants<br />Kids<br />War <br />Family<br />Ghosts<br />Pets<br />Location<br />Objects inside<br />A place in time<br />House<br />(even some poems!)<br />3<br />
How to Make New Connections?(or accommodate different learning styles, link to other disciplines)<br />Living History<br />Tours<br />Activities (explore, make, measure, perform) <br />Objects (analyze, compare, imagine)<br />Words, Stories & Images<br />4<br />
Words – Poetry The Builders<br />All are architects of Fate, Working in these walls of Time;Some with massive deeds and great, Some with ornaments of rhyme. Nothing useless is, or low; Each thing in its place is best;And what seems but idle show Strengthens and supports the rest. For the structure that we raise, Time is with materials filled;Our to-days and yesterdays Are the blocks with which we build. Truly shape and fashion these; Leave no yawning gaps between;Think not, because no man sees, Such things will remain unseen. In the elder days of Art, Builders wrought with greatest careEach minute and unseen part; For the Gods see everywhere. Let us do our work as well, Both the unseen and the seen;Make the house, where Gods may dwell, Beautiful, entire, and clean. Else our lives are incomplete, Standing in these walls of Time,Broken stairways, where the feet Stumble as they seek to climb. Build to-day, then, strong and sure, With a firm and ample base;And ascending and secure Shall to-morrow find its place. Thus alone can we attain To those turrets, where the eyeSees the world as one vast plain, And one boundless reach of sky.<br />12<br />
Curriculum – Make Something!<br />Created by Medfield middle school students <br />to fulfill social studies class assignment<br />14<br />
Measure!! How tall is that tree?<br />Find a stick and hold it at its base vertically, making certain that the length of the stick above your hand equals the distance from your hand to your eye. <br />Staying on ground level (or on the same contour as the base of the tree), move away from the tree while sighting the trunk base above your hand. <br />Stop when the top of the stick is level with the top of the tree. You should be looking over your hand at the base of the tree and, moving only your eyes, looking over the top of your stick at the top of your tree. <br />Measure how far you are from the tree and that measurement - in feet - is the tree's height.<br />http://www.americanforests.org/resources/bigtrees/<br /> http://www.fw.vt.edu/4h/bigtree/height.htm<br />Longfellow American Linden Tree<br />15<br />
Activities –Japanese Cultural Day <br />16<br />
Explore!!<br />Architectural Elements<br />New vocabulary<br />tLinking architecture to poetry: The Builders<br />23<br />
Words History – Through the Eyes of the Poets <br />“Paul Revere’s Ride” <br /> by Henry W. Longfellow<br /><ul><li> Whose side are you on?
How were the “patriots “perceived by the loyalists?
Consider different points of view</li></ul>24<br />
THE AMERICAN TIMES<br />A Satire in Three Parts<br />By CamilloQuerno<br />Hear thy indictment, Washington, at large;<br />Attend and listen to the solemn charge:<br />Thou hast supported an atrocious cause<br />Against thy King, thy Country, and the laws;<br />Committed perjury, encourag'd lies,<br />Forced conscience, broken the most sacred ties;<br />Myriads of wives and fathers at thy hand<br />Their slaughter'd husbands, slaughter'd sons demand;<br />That pastures hear no more the lowing kine, -- <br />That towns are desolate, all -- all is thine;<br />The frequent sacrilege that pain'd my sight:<br />The blasphemies my pen abhors to write;<br />Innumerable crimes on thee must fall -- <br />For thou maintainest, thou defendest all. <br />. . . <br />What could, when half-way up the hill to fame,<br />Induce thee to go back, and link with shame?<br />Was it ambition, vanity, or spite,<br />That prompted thee with Congress to unite;<br />Or did all three within thy bosom roll,<br />"Thou heart of hero with a traitor's soul?"<br />Go, wretched author of thy country's grief,<br />Patron of villainy, of villains chief; . . . <br />The Loyalist Poetry of the Revolution<br />By Winthrop Sargent<br />Printer: Collins<br />Philadelphia, 1857<br />Limited Edition of 99 copies<br />HW Longfellow's copy: #63 <br />25<br />