In a perfect example of integrating humanities disciplines to enhance learning, and adapting a special project to the needs of the curriculum, teachers at the James F. Doughty Middle School in Bangor have chosen to immerse their students in the tumultuous decade of the 1940s for their work in the MCHP. The reason? Two of three teachers involved teach English (the third teaches alternative education) and Doughty 8th graders–35 of whom are participating in the MCHP–spend part of the year studying The Diary of Anne Frank. To supplement the literary analysis of the book, as well as its global historical themes, the teachers felt it would make sense to delve more deeply into the local history of the time period.
Work began in the late fall by pouring over artifacts like the Bangor Public Library’s postcard collection. Many of those images will appear in a “Then and Now” story in the final exhibit, which has been broken down into several sub-sections.
As they have at the Cohen School, MCHP team members Dana Lippitt, Curator of the Bangor History Museum, and Bill Cook, Special Collections Librarian at the Bangor Public Library, have spent several class periods at the school helping students identify, analyze, and contextualize photographs, documents, and other 1940s-era artifacts to use for various sections of the exhibit. The hours they have put into helping all the students in Bangor (including at the high school) have been invaluable.
Meanwhile, the students have learned a variety of technical aspects of MCHP, such as scanning, cataloging, research techniques, and artifact photography. At all steps of the way they have been assisted by team members and additional experts, such as Maine Historical Society’s Image Services Coordinator Dani Fazio, who has provided in-depth digital photography training to six of the eight MCHP teams. Some of her work with Doughty students centered around setting up shots of ’40s-era clothing.
And, finally, what study of local history would be complete without some personal stories of the time period? The Doughty teachers have brought in several guest speakers to talk about their lives during the 1940s. Dr. Henry Wyman shared stories about the years leading up to WWII, as well as his experience as a medic during the war. Bangor resident Leon Higgins shared memories of daily life and his adventures hunting and fishing.
By the time the students at Doughty complete and upload their exhibit on the Bangor MCHP website, they will have done just about everything possible–short of time travel–to learn about the Bangor of seven decades ago. And in doing so, they will have enhanced their educational experience in other areas of the curriculum.