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History of the Project

A 1999 Materials Development Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (with additional funding from the Massachusetts Department of Education, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and the Five College Multimedia Access Project) underwrote the building of this web site that translated the project's intellectual concepts and pedagogy to new technologies. Working with the Center for Computer Based Instructional Technology (CCBIT) at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a nationally recognized web designer, a team of museum and academic scholars, teacher reviewers and public school media experts produced this site. The first version of Memorial Hall Museum's American Centuries site was launched in the Summer of 2001.

The intellectual content of this web site is the direct result of a National Endowment for the Humanities Focus Grant in which teachers and museum staff jointly studied historic themes with leading scholars from major educational institutions in New England. Turns of the Centuries focused on New England and Massachusetts history during the periods of each of the last three turns of the centuries:

  • 1680-1720 (the Colonial Period)
  • 1780-1820 (the Federal Period)
  • 1880-1920 (the Progressive and Colonial Revival period)

Within these pivotal time periods in New England and American history, selected documents and objects from Memorial Hall's collections were organized around five teacher selected themes:

  • Native Americans
  • Newcomers (settlers and immigrants)
  • African Americans
  • Family Life
  • the Land

Under the guidance of a highly experienced curriculum development expert, participating 5th through 12th grade Frontier Regional/Union 38 school teachers wrote extensive curriculum around these themes. Museum experts, Humanists in Residence, worked side-by-side with the teachers infusing the curriculum with related museum resources. Instructional technology specialists from CCBIT also worked with the teachers to help bring their ideas to the Web. All curriculum work conformed to the Massachusetts Social Science Curriculum Framework.

This National Endowment for the Humanities funded web site had its beginnings in a Massachusetts Cultural Council and Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities sponsored partnership between Frontier Regional/Union #38 School Districts and local community resources in western Massachusetts. The project was known as Turns of the Centuries. Original partners included:

  • Frontier Regional / Union 38 Schools, Conway, Deerfield, Sunderland and Whately, Massachusetts.
  • Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, a nationally recognized history museum, Deerfield Massachusetts.
  • Straight Ahead Pictures, a film and radio production company, Conway, Massachusetts.
  • Deerfield Arts Partnership, a community organization invested in developing arts within the school, Deerfield Elementary School, Deerfield, Massachusetts.
  • Greenfield Community College, a local community college with a commitment to technology and distance learning, Greenfield, Massachusetts.

The project was governed by an executive board composed of representatives from each of the partners listed above, working together to develop a multicultural, interdisciplinary curriculum that is now part of this web site.

Turns of the Centuries Executive Committee

  • Timothy C. Neumann, Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association
  • Dr. Diana Campbell, Frontier Regional/Union #38 School Districts
  • Dr. Janice Dore, Frontier Regional/Union #38 School Districts
  • Laurie Block, Straight Ahead Pictures
  • Judee Rainville, Deerfield Arts Partnership
  • Dale McLeod, Greenfield Community College

The Institute of Museum and Library Services, a federal agency, is funding the creation of additional content materials and new special features for inclusion on this site through a 2001 National Leadership Grant.


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