Kentucky Museum teaches students Colonial history

Kentucky Museum student worker Anna Lee McFadden, 22, awaits the arrival of the next group of Jody Richards Elementary fifth grade students participating in interactive presentations on colonial Kentucky history on Monday, April 20, 2015. McFadden and other WKU Department of Theatre & Dance majors are working for the museum as a part of the Early America, Early Kentucky exhibit. William Kolb/HERALD

Andrew Henderson

Women in Colonial style dresses filled the Kentucky Museum Monday as approximately 115 eager fifth grade students flooded the confines of the museum. Students were about to embark on a journey of American and Kentucky history from the 18th to 19th centuries.

Christy Spurlock, education curator for the Kentucky Museum, was the organizer for the Early America, Early Kentucky event. Spurlock said this was the third year the museum has hosted the event. Spurlock said she would often receive inquiries from parents and educators about borrowing clothes and Colonial artifacts for events. 

Spurlock said she created the event to compliment the curriculum being taught in the school system.

At the event, students experience two hours of interactive history, cycling through four separate stations manned by costumed stationmasters. Spurlock said at each station there were a variety of resources and hands-on activities.

One of these stations was run by Cassandra Little, retired speech pathologist from Warren County Schools.

At Little’s station, the Kentucky African-American station, Little provided students with bookmarks that featured historical characters with a matching narrative. Students had to figure out if their person was an early settler, a slave, an escaped slave, a freed black person or an abolitionist. Students discovered that many of their individuals fit into multiple categories. 

“One thing I tell them is this is just a little slice about people they haven’t heard about,” Little said. “They’ve heard about Dr. Martin Luther King and Harriet Tubman, but there are so many unsung heroes they haven’t heard about.” 

Anna Lee McFadden, senior from Nashville, was in charge of the Colonial America/Primary Sources station. McFadden talked about colonial clothing and demonstrated to students what a typical colonial male and female would wear. She also talked about primary and secondary sources and how historical information is obtained through them.

“You need context as far as understanding a timeline of where things begin and where things end,” she said. 

Other stations included the Kentucky Native American station, which chronicled a history of Native Americans from 1760-1838. 

 In this station students learned about the three Native American tribes that inhabited Kentucky during that time period, their use of animal fur and the trading they did with the Europeans. 

Kim Taylor, teacher at Jody Richards Elementary School, said she brought a class to the event last year and found it to be a wonderful event. She said it brings Colonial history alive and her students thoroughly enjoy it.

“They enjoy just going through the different stations, and the students that are putting this on are really good as far as fielding questions and they’re very knowledgeable and good they really interact well with the students,” Taylor said.

For Spurlock the event is both fun and exhausting, but also very rewarding for her. 

“It’s fast and it’s furious, but it’s a good thing,” Spurlock said. 

Early America, Early Kentucky will continue Wednesday and Friday from 9 to 11 am.