UMBC’s Center for History Education (CHE) has recently unveiled the Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town: The Stories of Three Families project, a digital storybook about real people who resided in London Town, a colonial-era trading port near Annapolis, Maryland. The project is the result of a collaboration between the CHE, elementary school teachers from Anne Arundel County Public Schools, and Historic London Town and Gardens. The U.S. Department of Education’s Teaching American History Grant Program provided funding.
The stories were developed through graduate coursework under the direction of Dr. Marjoleine Kars, chair and associate professor of history at UMBC, and Mary Davis, Anne Arundel County Public Schools resource teacher. The teachers working with Kars realized that focusing on children would generate interest among their 4th and 5th grade students studying the colonial period. The resulting narratives provide insight into the daily lives of three different families.
The teachers worked at London Town with Lisa Robbins, director of education, to research the children’s lives, making use of available primary sources like documents and artifacts, as well as secondary sources on the history of childhood. The resulting narratives span the early 1700s to the American Revolution. Read together, the stories are an inclusive portrait of life in London Town in the eighteenth-century colonial south. As a teaching resource, the book can be used across the disciplines and in a variety of subject areas.
The Children’s Lives at Colonial London Town website, which was developed by UMBC’s New Media Studio in conjunction with the CHE, has a number of interactive features, including maps, a timeline, and glossary. Site visitors will also find additional background information on the people and places in the stories and learn more about present-day London Town. The website is an example of the digital humanities work taking place within UMBC’s Department of History.
The Center for History education seeks to strengthen and invigorate the teaching of history in Maryland schools through innovative professional development programs and resources for elementary, middle and high school educators. Graduate courses and summer institutes assist K–12 educators in enriching their history curriculum.
The project was the recipient of the 2012 Social Studies Program of Excellence Award from the Middle States Regional Council for the Social Studies, an affiliate of the National Council for the Social Studies.
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