MHS News

2011 Swensrud and Kass Teacher Fellowships Awarded

MHS SealSince the summer of 2001, the Society’s teacher fellows have produced more than 50 outstanding curricular projects based on MHS collections. Many have been published on the Society’s website, and quite a few of our teacher fellow alumni have presented their projects at conferences hosted by organizations such as the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies and the Organization of American Historians. This summer the MHS will welcome three Swensrud Fellows--Marla Blair of Charles Brown Middle School in Newton, Mass., Carolyn Dunne of Boston College High School in Dorchester, Mass., and William Miskinis of Littleton High School in Littleton, Mass.,--and one Kass Fellow, Susanna Whitaker-Rahilly of Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. Based on the proposals received, we will add four very engaging curriculum projects to our collection.

2011 Swensrud Fellows
Marla Blair teaches eighth grade U.S. history at the Charles Brown Middle School in Newton, Mass. Her project, “John Brown’s Social Network,” will focus on documents that illuminate the nature of Brown’s relationships with his followers, his financial backers, and other abolitionists. Using documents from collections such as the Theodore Parker papers, the Stevens family papers, and a collection of letters received by Samuel Gridley Howe, Marla’s students will investigate John Brown’s motives and his beliefs about how to end slavery in the United Sates. Students will also consider Brown’s relationships with other abolitionists and their reactions to Brown’s radical methods.

Carolyn Dunne teaches global history and U.S. history at Boston College High School in Dorchester, Mass. Using the Society’s wealth of materials from the late 19th- and early-20th-centuries, she will explore American imperial policy and our nation’s expansion into Latin America and Asia. Her project will touch on topics including the annexation of Hawaii, the Spanish-American War, the annexation of the Philippines, and the creation of the Panama Canal. Students will ultimately debate the pros and cons of imperial expansion, using materials from the Henry Cabot Lodge papers and documents created by George Boutwell and other members of the Anti-Imperialist League.

William Miskinis, a U.S. history teacher at Littleton High School, will use his project to help his students better understand the historical roots of a contemporary issue: prison reform. He will explore how prison and asylum reform was connected other 19th-century reform effort, such as temperance, and the role of religion in Americans’ reform impulse. William’s project will use a variety of sources, including the notebooks of Rev. Jared Curtis, chaplain of the Massachusetts State Prison, to identify the assumptions underlying different 19th-century reform movements and to analyze the methodologies employed by reformers. Students will debate if reformers were truly trying to help those in need or if their ultimate goal was to maintain a vanishing social and political status quo.

2011 Kass Fellow
Susanna Whitaker-Rahilly teaches world history and U.S. history at the Brooks School in North Andover, Mass. She will investigate Bostonians’ participation in the 17th- and 18th-century slave trade. Her interdisciplinary unit will address the origin of slavery in Massachusetts and its growth through the colonial era, slavery during the American Revolution, and the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts in the 1780s. Students will analyze primary sources including ship manifests and receipts to gain a better understanding of the importance of slavery in Boston’s early economy, while letters and diaries, such has those kept by MHS founder Jeremy Belknap, will reveal personal attitudes towards Massachusetts role in the institution of slavery.

Published: Saturday, 7 May, 2011, 9:58 AM