PATH I (Spring 2000) Boston Massacre, Civil War Soldiers from Beverly.
PATH II (Spring 2001) Maritime History
PATH III (Spring 2002) Church Records
PATH IV (Spring 2003) African-Americans in Antebellum Boston
The goal of Project Apprentice to History (PATH) is to inspire in high school students a love of history through primary documents. Formed as a collaborative project involving the Beverly Public Library and a number of Greater Boston’s finest archival repositories and libraries, PATH began as a class of high school students in Beverly, MA who participated voluntarily before school and on weekends. Recently, PATH students completed a year-long project focusing on African Americans in Antebellum Boston .
|Carlos Avila, alumnus of PATH III, talked about what PATH meant to him at the dedication ceremony of the African-Americans in Antebellum Boston project February 9, 2004. Carlos was later a deans-list Springfield College history student, and interned at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington in the summer of 2004.|
Each PATH class focuses on a particular historical subject as a way of learning about ‘primary research’, or, the study of history through finding and using original sources. We use our surroundings as our historical laboratory. The past comes to life through our investigation of local artifacts. With each clue we discover about the lives of people in the documents of our city and region, we hope to immortalize them through our research. Through learning about these people it is our goal to provide an intimate perspective of history and to contextualize broader trends and subjects in United States and world history.
Unfortunately, history for many students in our schools has become a dull memorization of facts. The need for students to be their own historians evolved as part of a national movement to improve social studies in instruction in our public schools. This approach enables students, schools, scholars, teachers, and research institutions to work cooperatively in the development of a strategy that is both academically challenging and exciting. It makes history come alive through its own investigation.
One of our objectives is to demonstrate how, what, and why historians do what they do — to bridge the distance between students, teachers, scholars and research institutions. Saturday field trips avail students opportunities to interact and career-shadow a variety of professionals in the field of history, including scholars, archivists, research librarians, and museum directors. Students also learn through hands-on activities the various formats by which archival documents are cataloged, preserved, described, and interpreted.
As school budgets have been tightened for many school districts it has become increasingly imperative that public libraries become an integral component in collaboration with public schools. We hope to serve as a model for this type of collaboration, which enables students, teachers, scholars, and archivists to be engaged in a seemingly endless array of creative projects.
The PATH Program was designed and administered by a high school social studies teacher (W. Dean Eastman) and a high school librarian (Kevin McGrath). The class is conducted in the spring, meeting before school on Wednesday mornings at Beverly Public Library and on Saturdays at research institutions such as the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Boston Athenaeum, the Massachusetts State Archives, and many more.
PATH students listen as Peter Drummey, Stephen T. Riley Librarian at MHS, explains documents relating to the Boston Massacre at the Massachusetts Historical Society in 2000.
The idea for PATH originated in the fall of 1999, and the class was first held in the spring of 2000. It was funded thanks to a Documentary Heritage Grant from the Massachusetts Historical Records Advisory Board of the Massachusetts State Archives. To see the press release, click here. The project also received support from the Beverly National Bank and from Todd’s Sporting Goods.
The first year of PATH was designed around several themes, including the Boston Massacre, the Civil War in Beverly. In subsequent years we switched our focus to other historical topics:
We attempted to thread together many institutions and types of documents using these themes. This also made us consider how linking different types of historic records is basic to primary historical research. One of our first exercises involved record linkage.
The first year of the PATH program involved ten volunteer students from Beverly High School. The class was limited to ten participants for logistical reasons, although more than double that number expressed interests. The students came from a wide range of social, economic, and cultural backgrounds.
The PATH class meetings were at the Beverly Public Library before school from 6:45-7:45AM and on Saturdays, either from 9:00AM to 12:00PM at Beverly Public Library, or field visits to a number of Greater Boston’s best archival repositories and libraries. This non-compulsory, non-credit course was offered free of charge.
On February 3, 2000 William Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth, announced that the Beverly PATH program was one of eleven grant awards that were to be distributed as part of the Documentary Heritage Grant Program of the Massachusetts Historical Records Advisory board.
Said State Secretary Galvin “Congratulations, on the efforts they have made to build partnerships, and in reaching out to their communities for support. These grant recipients have made a commitment to the history of their community, and the state. They deserve our applause and our support. The competitive grants program funded projects that promote and result in the documentation, preservation and use of historical records in Massachusetts.”
Most recently, PATH students completed an 8 month project on African Americans in antebellum Boston presented research they completed using resources available on this website for the study of African-Americans in Boston in the 19th century.