Learning the Ropes: High School Students Research at MHS

By Kathleen Barker, Education Department

As our teaching collegues head into the second half of the school year, I paused to reflect back on all the Education Department accomplished this fall. In doing so, I realized that November was a busy month for student workshops at the Society. Two programs in particular highlight the ways in which education and library staff members collaborate to make our collections accessible to audiences beyond academics. On November 10, students from Needham High School returned to the MHS for a program on the coming of the American Revolution in Boston. They analyzed propaganda from the 1760s and the 1770s, including this entertaining newspaper article encouraging colonists to boycott goods imported from Britain. Thanks to the coordinated efforts of Needham teachers and MHS staff, students were able to search for and request specific items to view during their visit. For many students, this was their first opportunity to examine original manuscripts and rare printed materials in a research library setting! 

On November 19, we welcomed students from Concord Academy. This excited group of young researchers examined documents related to slavery, abolition, and the African Americans in the Civil War in order to help select topics for an upcoming project. Students then discussed the messages promoted in abolitionist propaganda such as these cotton banners from the 1840s, and considered the role that African Americans like the men of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment  played in securing an end to slavery. Since these students were just beginning their research efforts, they also took a tour of the library and learned more about specific research tools like ABIGAIL and our collections guides.

If you would like to learn more about field trip opportunities for K-12 classes, please contact our education department!