Heritage, 2009, Volume 2 Page: 31
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given the opportunity to dress in period costumes and transform
themselves into 1860's Southern belles. While playing "dress-up" is
fun for participants, the activity allows the docent to weave in the
social history of females and talk about daily life on the Civil War
home front, along with a discussion of innovations in fashion design
from the Victorian period.
The Civil War Music demonstration is a very popular learning pro-
gram for school visitors. Music docents perform period music in ap-
propriate 1860's attire, playing the guitar, banjo, spoons, and a vari-
ety of other period instruments while singing. Many songs from the
Civil War were sung by both Confederate and Union armies when
in camp or when marching in formation, and the audience is told of
the history behind each tune played. The period music performance
is one of several school programs where students get to experience
another side of life during this tumultuous time. A Young Girl's Story
is a docent-led discussion about 17-year-old Sarah Morgan whose
diary reveals how her life was dramatically changed during the war.
Students are invited to join in the dialogue by comparing and contrast-
ing the life of a teenager then and now. Harriman says that the museum
would love to add to the 10 established educational programs, but there
is a shortage of well-equipped docents who can take time off from their
jobs on a regular, voluntary basis.
Despite this shortage of volunteers, the Texas Civil War Muse-
um has found another way to reach out to students using the lat-
est technology. Video conferencing with Region XI Service Center's
Connect2Texas broadcast allows the museum to present learning
programs to school-age audiences who cannot visit. According to Har-
riman, this addition to their education curriculum allows the staff to
engage thousands of students with each broadcast.
The Texas Civil War Museum provides additional educational
activities, accessed on their website, www.texascivilwarmuseum.com,
and listed under the Education link, for teachers to use offsite in
their classrooms. Developed by the museum, with the assistance
of Dr. Donald Frazier, professor of history at McMurry Uni-
versity in Abilene and a Texas Historical Foundation board
member, these TEK-compliant exercises compliment school
field trips to the museum and are easily integrated into cur-
riculums other than Texas history coursework. For example, the
Geography/Map Skills activity requires students to chart the locations
of Civil War battles in which Texans fought and then calculate the
distance soldiers traveled from their homes. The Creativity exercise
uses art as a medium in which students envision and illustrate Texas
Civil War history by designing a commemorative stamp, bumper
sticker, or flag. Additionally, students (or families with young histo-
rians visiting privately) can click on the School Field Trip link, again
under the Education section, and download student education forms,
which include a scavenger hunt, word search, and A-B-C word find
challenges. Created by the museum's resident historian, John Eden,
these worksheets are designed to entertain and inform as students tour
the museum's galleries. Harriman adds that, "If our young visitors
complete the forms, they receive a prize at the front desk and a letter
for extra credit consideration to take to their social studies teacher."
Educators can also download evaluation sheets to provide feedback
and recommendations after their class visit to the museum.
More than 90,000 Texans fought in the War Between the States,
and the Texas Civil War Museum will tell their stories to more than
100 school groups this year. The museum's educational programs
take a factual, but safety-focused approach to teaching about historic
firearms and the realistic consequence of war. Yet, Harriman stresses
that in telling the complete story of a war that tore a nation apart,
the museum also teaches about how in the end, Texas and the nation
worked to heal itself. "We want everyone leaving our facility to either
be proud to be a Texan or to wish that they were."
The staff and volunteers at the Texas Civil War Museum do their
utmost to make all field trips not only educational, but also authentic
to the very end. As the school children depart for their buses, they
do so to the sound of rifled muskets being fired overhead by period
costumed volunteer staff, enabling the youngsters to experience first-
hand the same blasts that Civil War soldiers heard on the battlefield.
-By Pam Murtha
The Texas Civil War Museum is open 9 a. m.-5p. m. Tuesday-Saturday.
Teachers planning a field trip can visit the museum for free and prear-
range for specific programs to be presented during their school visit.
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HERITA GE Volume 2 2009
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ARCHEOLO GICAL HERITAGE
PREWITTAND ASSOCIATES, INC.
Cultural Resources Services
2105 Donley Avenue, Suite 400 * Austin, Texas 78758-4513
Tel: (512) 459-3349 Fax: (512) 459-3851
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, 2009, Volume 2, periodical, 2009; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth254213/m1/31/: accessed April 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.