Local History Local Schools: Small School

On Thursday, March 5, Small School from South Portland visited our campus to celebrate the completion of their Local History Local Schools study. Fourth grade students from Mr. Stoner’s and Ms. Cloutier’s classes gave presentations and shared their work with fellow classmates, parents, and MHS staff. Their projects will continue to be on display in the Student Gallery, we invite you to come check them out!

Enjoy this slideshow of images from the event:

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2014 Junior Docent Camp a Success!

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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 kneumann@mainehistory.org.

Kids in the Hall

There’s nothing like delighted children to kick up a room’s energy level a notch (or two). And so the MHS lecture hall was a happy, hopping place on the evening of April 27.

That was the night of our spring Local History Local Schools celebration. Roughly 140 students from two Portland elementary schools–4th and 5th graders from Hall School and 3rd graders from Ocean Avenue School–joined with teachers, parents, grandparents, and MHS staff to celebrate their great work based on our ZOOM IN: New Approaches to Maine History exhibit.

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Of course there are as many charming stories of the students’ projects–now on display in the hallway off our lecture hall through the first week in June–as there are students. But we’ll share just one as an example.

Much of the focus of the students’ work was on learning about primary and secondary sources and then interpreting their knowledge through projects. In one of the classes, students created their own primary sources through interviews conducted with family members. One young man chose to interview his artistic grandfather because, as the student wrote in his narrative included in the exhibit, “I wanted to know how he got interested in art, and what it was like in his childhood.”

Fittingly, the grandfather provided his grandson with a primary source from that childhood to include in the exhibit, something he’s kept all these years, and something that relates to the activity he so enjoys. His grandson explains in his narrative: “When he was going to high school, he was given a pencil every semester to use throughout the year. The pencils he got did not have an eraser so he had to use a handheld one instead.”

That pencil is lovingly featured in our student exhibit hallway right now, through early June. (And if you have eagle eyes — you can see a photo of it in the slideshow above, as well as the young man standing between his grandfather and grandmother.) Don’t miss it–or any of the other wonderful works on display. We guarantee you will be amazed.

Finally, an extra special thanks goes to all the teachers for their commitment and dedication to their students and this program. We certainly couldn’t do it without you!

Local History Local Schools Celebration

Our Local History Local Schools celebration Tuesday night gave students from Wentworth Intermediate School in Scarborough, Lyseth Elementary in Portland, and Small Elementary in South Portland the opportunity to show off their great work based on our gallery exhibit, “ZOOM IN: New Approaches to Maine History.”

While they all go through a similar learning process, their final projects are entirely custom-designed to the class and the student. As they should be!

Please enjoy these wonderful photos, join us in thanking their inspiring teachers, and come see ALL the fabulous results of their work, which will be up in the hallway off the lecture hall through April.

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