Worthington Historical Society Educates all Ages About a Community’s Roots

Community learning opportunity for the family in local history treasure trove

Worthington Historical Society, MASome parts of local history are easy to access, no matter what community you live in. Families can learn about an area’s past informally by walking through cemeteries, reading plaques and memorials around town, and by looking for construction dates posted on signs and buildings. There are some things, though, that are nearly impossible to discover on your own. Stories about the people whose names mark graves, photographs of events held at local landmarks, and information about the inhabitants of historic homes or the former uses of old buildings could fill in the blanks, and the resources offered by local historical societies help us to do just that.

Of particular interest to local families are the resources offered by the Worthington Historical Society. A very active community resource, the Worthington Historical Society offers a museum full of local artifacts, frequently hosts educational tours and events, publishes a periodic blog of stories and photographs, and has an extensive library of books and DVD’s all about Worthington history.

While the society’s events and museum offer real-life experiential learning to families, its online resources alone offer families a wealth of material to support all kinds of learning (perhaps endlessly!) Archives filled with documents, historic photographs, genealogy records, oral histories, and cemetery maps allow families access to materials that will help them to independently research and answer questions about the town’s history. Of course, younger children will need help navigating the web-based archives, but they can easily use visual resources to help them to learn. Looking up old maps of your neighborhood or searching for pictures of children in Worthington can help young students contextualize the changes that have taken place within their community as time has passed.

Worthington, MA. North Cemetery

In particular, the historical society’s oral history project is of interest to families. Looking up a community’s history all the way back to its very roots can be fascinating, but it’s often easier for children to imagine things that date 75 to 100 years back, rather than many hundred. Listening to or watching one of the society’s many recordings can open students’ eyes to life in Worthington just a generation or two ago. Seeing elderly community members on screen (some of whom they may recognize!) can help children develop connections to their community’s past – even if they can’t imagine living in the way that is being described, someone they’ve interacted within in real life lived in that way, helping to solidify the information in children’s minds.

Finally, families can utilize the historical society’s resources to shape some summer adventures! Walking tours are always an adventure, and by perusing the society’s blog, The Corners, families can discover posts filled with information and photographs about specific spots in town. Recently, for example, the blog featured a set of postcards of South Worthington during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Try touring the area as a family, finding the locations from which each postcard photograph was taken and compare the view – what’s the same, and what has changed? You’ll discover that many things have remained the same, despite the presence of pavement, stoplights, and telephone poles.

Photo credits: (cc) John Phelan (Worthington Historical Society); Magicpiano (Worthington North Cemetery), via Wikimedia Commons

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