When I was a kid, I loved Colonial Williamsburg just about as much as Disneyworld. I loved the haberdashery partially for its awesome name and partially because I loved crafts and it was neat to think of how colonial kids might have crafted. I loved the actors playing historical characters because we could ask the wackiest questions and get answers that sounded reasonable. And, of course, as an avid reader of the Felicity books from American Girl, I had a literary “friend” who would have been a part of this world. (Image of me and my sister modeling our mob caps in Colonial Williamsburg, with additional context on the full blog entry)
So my family packed us up and put us in the car every-other summer, and we went to Williamsburg. And I learned history. I have to think that taking a vacation to the historical sites made history seem more “fun” (afterall, how could a kid’s vacation not be fun?). As I’m looking back, here are a few of my other favorites:
- We also came to Washington, DC, where I saw the First Ladies exhibition. I could never have imagined that as an adult, I would be part of the team that created the newest version of that exhibition.
- In second grade, I remember being baffled by touring Alcatraz and trying to figure out how so many people could be so bad they needed to be locked up in such a big jail.
- And I had one ill-fated trip to Gettysburg, where it was just too darn hot that day for me to get excited about anything.
Are you taking a history family field trip this summer? Or do you remember one from your childhood? Also, feel free to recommend a historical site you think is missing from this discussion.
I remember—and certainly recommend—several visits to Bodie State Historical Park in California. I’ve been to a variety of “gold-mining ghost towns” and none have ever come close to the authenticity that Bodie SHP offers. The park has been kept in a state of “arrested decay” since the 1960s, and most residents left in the 20s. The 170 buildings are pretty much just as people left them. It really gives you a sense of what it was like to live in Bodie throughout the town’s history, which goes back to a gold rush in the 1870s.
Anyone travelling through The Land of Enchantment ~ New Mexico in person or via armchair may want to consult EDSITEment's The Road to Sante Fe: A Virtual Excursion ~ Journey to one of America's oldest and most historic cities along the ancient Camino Real with stops at two Native American Pueblos - ending up at the Governor's Palace!
One of the key points along El Camino Real noted in the interactive map tracing the route travelled by Spanish colonists is Socorro, New Mexico where the route leaves the desert and enters a higher elevation along the Rio Grand northward.
First colonized in 1598, Socorro is of the oldest communities in the United States - and a last remnant of the Wild West! Its first inhabitants, Piro people of the Teypana Pueblo, welcomed the Spanish explorer Oñate and his men on the first expedition. They showed no fear of the strangers, warned the group what lay ahead, and surprised the travelers with a large gift of food to sustain them after their grueling 3-day trek through the desert. Thus, it's name meaning giving succor or aid!
If you go or connect - two Socorro landmarks not to miss:
1) Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, a unique bird and wildlife sanctuary on old New Mexico Highway 1 along the path of the original route. This is an important wintering home for Sandhill Cranes, and will host as many as 14,000 during the winter months. Cranes will begin arriving in November, and will leave as late as the end of February. The Refuge hosts a Festival of the Cranes to celebrate their annual migration.
2.) San Miguel Mission, constructed in 1891, on the site of the first mission dating back to 1627 that was disassembled in the Revolt of 1680. Step inside for a glimpse through interior photos of the Mission which is still an active parish in central New Mexico.
The Virtual Excursion includes companion field notes with trail markers fro students to learn how this road transformed the Southwest. For road trip learning, try our new creative writing activity where students imagine themselves as one of the characters that experience life on the trail or as one of the residents living at a key point along it.
My great-grandmother lived just outside of Boston, so I remember many trips to that city and its surroundings, including visits to the North Bridge in Concord and to Orchard House, the home of the Alcotts and the inspiration for Little Women (a wonderful destination for a little bookworm like me!). Another Concord landmark I remember well, and one that I plan to visit again this summer is the Old Manse, home at times to both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne; one image that stands out to me from my visit there is the poems Hawthorne and his wife etched to each other in the glass. My fiance and I are taking a New England vacation this summer, and our plan is to read Emerson's Self-Reliance together before our Concord tour.
National Museum of American History
Hi Naomi! I'm going to the same area in July! I'll be part of an NEH Landmark institute called Crossroads of the Revolution: Lexington and Concord, and we will be based in Concord for the week. I'm very excited about all that we will get to see and I'm enjoying the first book we have to read- "Revolutionary Mothers". So while not a family history vacation, one of my colleagues from Auburn wil be going with me and we are calling it the Nerdy Teacher Vacation trip! :-)
As a Massachusetts native and lover of Throeau, I'm so glad to read that these historic and literary landmarks of Concord are on the itinerary of teachers and students this summer both for personal enrichment and for NEH Summer Scholarship!
EDSITEment has a number of resources to prepare for this trip and supplement your knowledge of Concord's rich humanitities legacy.
You might want to start with two resources created this year:
Interactive Thoreau's Circle: Who's Who in Transcendentalism
This resource is intended to assist students in drawing interconnections between members of the small group of American literati that made up Thoreau’s circle based in Concord, Massachusetts, and who spawned the transcendentalist movement.
This resource guides students through Henry David Thoreau's classic political essay, "On Civil Disobedience."
To complement yor trip and for the teachers who can't visit New England this summer ~ Stay tuned!!!! Later this month in time for Thoreau's birthday, I will be posting a new interactive (under development) which take you on a virtual trip of Thoreau's Concord!
"I have now a library of nearly 900 volumes over 700 of which I wrote myself--"
-----Journal, October 28, 1853
(Thoreau's first book, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, sold poorly and the publisher returned 706 unsold copies to the author.)
Although Henry David Thoreau has earned an international reputation as a naturalist, social philosopher, and literary artist of the first rank, no scholarly edition of his writings has previously been undertaken. The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau provides, for the first time, accurate texts of Thoreau's complete works: his writings for publication, his Journal, his correspondence, and other uncollected papers. Much of the material in this edition has never been published before. The contents of all forty-seven volumes of Thoreau's handwritten Journal will appear in sixteen printed volumes. Our edition, based on a line-for-line transcript of the Journal manuscripts made for this project, presents significant new material, including hitherto unpublished manuscript volumes, in a format that consciously reflects the physical nature of the manuscript. Thoreau's writings for publication are edited from the manuscript or printed versions that most clearly represent Thoreau's intentions.
Those interested in a snap shot of the changes that have come about at Walden Pond in the 21st-century might want to read a little article in this month's NEH Humanities Magazine: Thoreau on Flora
"....27 percent of the species that Thoreau and others recorded are no longer present in Concord, a finding that “was somewhat surprising, considering that approximately 35 percent of Concord’s land area is protected.” For orchids alone, the change is dramatic. When Thoreau lived, there were twenty-one species, now there are seven...."
I visited the Highline park in new york city this weekend with my Dad. We were only expecting a natural-world type visit, but when we found the "history of the park" panel, we found it was a history field trip as well. We ended up talking about the history and geography of new York city and why the highline's trains had been discontinued, and how new York city's recent leadership is especially interested in making walkable, natural spaces!
I hope you all stumble upon some great history field trips, woo!