Voices From Three Centuries

"Voices from Three Centuries," a summer institute for K-12 teachers, provided participants the opportunity to explore current scholarship while simultaneously delving into the archival material on which that scholarship rests. In 1999, 2000 and 2001, these weeklong summer institutes were funded by the Massachusetts Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the History Institute, a program of the University of Massachusetts History Department, Amherst College Archives and Special Collections, and the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Foundation, Inc. In the summer of 2003 the Foundation again partnered on a month-long seminar, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, which focused on the braided histories of women, family and reform.

In every version of the "Voices from Three Centuries" program, mornings began with scholarly presentations from leading historians who used materials from the Porter-Phelps-Huntington archival collections in their research and writing, while afternoons were spent doing guided research in the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Family Papers. Participants in the "Voices" institute were also inspired to search their own local archives for material while ongoing pedagogical discussions led by curriculum specialists helped participants think creatively about how to bring their discoveries into their classrooms.

Our aim with "Voices" was to help teachers learn to conduct their own archival research so that they could develop curricula and lesson plans in social and cultural history from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries that would appeal to their own students. Teaching with primary sources has become increasingly important but many teachers must rely on pre-prepared packets of materials. We hope to contribute to ongoing professional collaborations between classroom teachers, humanities scholars, archivists, and museum professionals through the lesson plans produced over the years, generated from "Voices from Three Centuries", featured below.