History Kit: Civil War

items from the Civil War history lending kit

Through objects, letters, art, and music, this kit helps students comprehend the impact of the Civil War on nearly every person in the state of Vermont. Documents and reference books in the kit also introduce students to using primary sources for historical inquiry so that they can explore Civil War topics in their communities. The kit has been created jointly through the Vermont Historical Society and the Flow of History, a U.S. Department of Education Teaching American History grant.

The kit contains a teacher’s guide and includes a background essay (pdf) on developments leading to the Civil War and the role that Vermonters played, by well-known author and Civil War expert Howard Coffin.

The kit provides a hands-on complement to a Civil War unit. It has three major goals:

  • To demonstrate the role of Vermont in the Civil War and to show the impact of that war on the state of Vermont and its communities
  • To integrate local, state, and national history by emphasizing how they were (and are) interconnected
  • To help teachers use local primary source materials in the classroom.

The kit includes:

  • A soldier's haversack — explores everyday life in the camp and the intensity and misery of battle through letters, pictures, recipes, and artifacts.
  • A medical haversack — explores medical practices during the Civil War, featuring Dr. Henry Janes of Waterbury, Vermont, who served as the Head Field surgeon at Gettysburg. He later became director of the Sloan General Hospital in Montpelier one of three hospitals built for recuperating Civil War soldiers in Vermont.
  • The soldier's aid society package — highlights the role of Vermont women during the Civil War. The package is a reproduction of one that these societies might have sent to the troops.
  • The town archive — represents the typical files that might be found in any Vermont community. The primary source materials and historical summaries can be used as self-contained lessons or to prepare students for fieldwork of their own.
  • Appendices — because the kit emphasizes the "Doing" of history, the appendices provide lists of related places to visit in Vermont, websites, and a bibliography. Maps, posters, music, and reference books are added to aid students in building a context for their explorations and research.

In each of the sections of the Teacher's Guide, "Classroom Connections" support the inquiry process in studying history. These are drawn directly from Grade Level Expectations for Vermont's Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities.

  • Asking questions — helps students to wonder about what they read and to generate focusing and probing questions for further research. This section also provides suggestions for where to find information.
  • Exploring primary sources — offers tools for reading the interpreting primary sources so students can conduct their own investigations of the local story.
  • Connecting the past to the present — prompts students to make contemporary connections to their discussions and research.
  • In each of the "Classroom Connections" there are suggestions for how students might communicate their findings.

All kits are available for a monthly lending period for a fee of $80.00 (round-trip shipping), $55.00 (one-way shipping) or $30.00 (you pick up at VHS). For more information see History Kits.

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