This summer, 9 high school students will work with historical documents at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to create a mobile-friendly walking tour guiding users through the African-American struggle for freedom and equality in Philadelphia. During this two-week program, History Makers Camp, the students will research key landmarks from the Abolition Movement up through the Civil Rights Era.
The program launched with a panel discussion on July 18, 2018, with historians, educators, and elected officials—including state representative Jared Solomon—lending their insights as the students began their research.
“There’s something powerful about bringing these stories of struggle and success from the pages of a historical document to the streets of a city where they are still playing out today,” says Beth Twiss Houting, senior director of programs and services at HSP. “We’re glad to have the opportunity to help these students put current events into historical context.”
HSP is uniquely suited to provide this historical context. Each year HSP acquires additional manuscript, graphic, and photograph collections, as well as printed materials, documenting the African American experience regionally and nationally. In 2002, when HSP merged with the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, its holdings increased by four million manuscripts, 60,000 books and pamphlets, 12,000 graphics, and 1,000 newspaper titles. Much of this material relates to African Americans and other historically underrepresented ethnic groups. These collections have proved to be invaluable sources for researchers studying everything from the African diaspora to their own family histories.
History Makers Camp will be led by Kimberly McCleary, education manager at Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Program facilitators include Melvin Garrison, retired social studies curriculum coordinator for the School District of Philadelphia; Jeff Heller, a historical fiction writer; Valorie Daskilewicz, a retired teacher for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools; and Kerry Bryan, an educator and interpreter for Historic Germantown and the National Park Service.