A few weeks back I wrote about a partnership between Shelburne Museum, the Green Mountain Writing Project, and Turning Points in American History that encourages Vermont educators to use primary sources, including museum collections, when studying the Civil War and Reconstruction era. I promised to share more about the study group that meets at the Museum, including innovative ways that participating teachers are engaging their students with history. I had to look no further than the 1876 World's Fair, which arrived at the Museum on a sunny day this spring.
|"Lamb & St. Lawrence Leech Co.," presented by Vermont educators Jennifer Theoret (pictured) and Cate Lamb, advertised historical remedies in the Apothecary Shop.|
They brought to life several objects that I had seen before but never studied, such as this prosthetic leg on display at the Doctor's Office upstairs in the General Store. I learned that amputations were increasingly common in the Civil War as a result of military advancements like the minie ball, a particularly destructive lead bullet used by the Union army. The Turning Points teachers also made compelling connections, as in the needlepoint display that linked the content of early American samplers to the unique roles that women played in the abolitionist movement. I was surprised to discover that explicit anti-slavery inscriptions appear on textiles dating as early as the 1830s.
A prosthetic leg at the General Store.