On the morning of August 8, 2014, visitors to the Wadsworth-Longfellow House arrived to participate in an activity that most people have come to expect from historic house museums: an informative tour led by a well-trained, enthusiastic docent. What they probably were not expecting, however, was that the docent would be in the fourth grade.
Graduates of Maine Historical Society’s Second Annual Junior Docent Camp were stationed in the different rooms of the house that morning, greeted each guest with a smile, and eagerly shared what they had learned over the course of one week about Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, his poetry, and his childhood in Portland.
The eight Junior Docents (all 9 and 10 year-olds) spent the four days prior to their open house preparing to become tour guides and learning about life in the 19th century. They learned the stories of the Wadsworth-Longfellow House, took basement-to-attic tours, and learned how historians use artifacts and primary source documents by seeing and handling (with white gloves, of course) MHS collection material.
During their week at camp, the Junior Docents also had the chance to try their hands at 19th century crafts, chores, and games: they made butter, created self-portrait silhouettes, dipped candles, and perfected their athletic techniques in “games of graces.” It was a fun-filled week of trying new things and meeting new people that left every Junior Docent who participated excited to come back next year and build upon their experiences!
For inquiries about the 2015 Junior Docent Camp, contact Kathleen Neumann at 207-774-1822 ext. 214, or firstname.lastname@example.org.