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A Note to Teachers

The Doing History/Keeping the Past Project began in 1998 to develop a new generation of Colorado history and historic preservation education materials, which are being delivered to schools via computer-based technology. The work of the project is supported by the State Historical Fund of the Colorado Historical Society and the Hewit Institute for History and Social Science Education at the University of Northern Colorado.

The basic idea underlying the Doing History/Keeping the Past Project is that history is something one does. It assumes that students should be engaged in creating their own historical understanding by using and interpreting a variety of primary sources and secondary materials. Then they should share their understanding with others by writing, speaking, drawing, acting out, or otherwise presenting what they have learned.

  • History is an Action Word. The most accessible kind of history for young students is the history of everyday life. It is easy for them to relate to, to understand, to document, and to do. It also is a very democratic kind of history, as it includes rich and poor, the ordinary and famous people, and various ethnic and racial groups alike.
  • History of Everyday Life. The history of everyday life encompasses such themes as food, clothing, and shelter; families, children, and schools; work and tools; towns and cities; community life; and transportation.
  • History of Places. Everyday life also has a spatial dimension. It is set in specific communities, locations, places, buildings, houses, or rooms. Attention to the history of places and the interaction of people and places should make it easier for students to do history that is visual and concrete.
  • History Close to Home. School history is often focused on things and people somewhat remote to students. It is, of course, important for them to learn about other people who once lived in Colorado. But they should also have an opportunity to do their own history, the history of their family, school, community, and town. It is easiet for them to document and preserve history that is close to home.
  • Keeping the Past. Doing history requires evidence from and information about the past. We cannot be doers of history without being keepers of the past. This project is designed to help students see this connection. It will help students get involved in doing history and keeping the past. It focuses especially on helping students keep the past that is physically closest to them--the past of their family, school, neighborhood, and community. This includes documenting and preserving sites as well as documents that have historical significance to them.