Civil War Storyline

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In the midst of frantic preparation of ESD 112’s new Teaching American History Grant proposal (due Friday!) and our History on Location expedition to Boston, Plimoth, and Salem (Sunday!), I squeezed in a trip to my daughter’s school Tuesday morning to help them launch their study of the Civil War period.  Using the Storyline approach, students will be designers from Bellthorne Studios, hired by the Smithsonian to create display called “Quilting the Nation, 1849-1900.”  I arrived with the Smithsonian’s invitation, commending them on all the excellent commemorative work they’ve done in the past.  I told them that I thought their statue of Frederick Douglass was wonderful, but that I wanted to make sure that they didn’t repeat the mistake that they made of not sufficiently consulting the historical record when they included Underground Railroad messages sent through quilts.  I warned them that they were in for some controversy, telling them about the strikingly different portrayals they were likely to encounter – using the 2009 John Brown exhibits in New York and Richmond, Virginia as an example.  I’m looking forward to checking in at Sunnyside over the coming weeks to see where they go with this!

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