Students at Skowhegan Area Middle School (SAMS) know their local history! In 2002, Laura Richter, the Technology Integrator at SAMS, had been a social studies teacher for 17 years and was looking for creative ways to help students study their community.
Maine Historical Society (MHS) staff helped her set up a meeting with staff from the Skowhegan History House to discuss historical resources in Skowhegan and to brainstorm ideas for student-led projects. Lee Granville, president of the History House at the time, invited a small group of teachers to the History House for an introduction to their collections and let inspiration strike.
One teacher found the scrapbook of Elise Fellows White, a child violin prodigy from Skowhegan who, in the 1880s, played in Boston at the age of ten and in Vienna when she was 12. Another found the military kit, family records, and correspondence of Alexander Crawford, a farmer from Skowhegan who had fought in the Civil War. They had just scratched the surface.
For a year and a half, from 2003-2005, students from SAMS, using their MLTI laptops, scanned and took digital photographs of these and many other amazing items. They worked closely with staff from MHS and the History House, learned to do historical research, work with fragile historical items, and to scan, catalog, and upload those items into Maine Memory Network.
The students also built several online exhibits that explored different aspects of Skowhegan history, created iMovies to document their work, recorded oral histories with community members, and were leaders in a local effort to save their town's Grange Hall. Please visit their exhibits on the right!