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Nonfiction Matters
Inside Nonfiction Matters

My New Project With the National Parks Service — And You Are Invited to Join

Here is the announcement I am sending around to schools. If you know of a teacher who would like to participate, get in touch. The paper says “high school” but motivated and well-trained middle school classes are welcome. Feel free to share this with others.



 The coming year, 2011, marks the 150th anniversary of president-elect Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural train trip from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC and the presidency of a nation on the eve of civil war. Inspired by that anniversary, the National Park Service invites high schools classes to join in a national digital project on the broader theme of inaugurations – new beginnings.

            The National Park Service invites students to create short digital narratives on one of three themes:

  • My area in 1861 – using maps, photos, illustrations, census data, telling incidents from local newspapers, and (if available) national parks materials – students will create a portrait of where they live as it was just before Lincoln set off to Washington.
  • A civil rights hero from my area one hundred years later, in 1961, — by seeking out and interviewing a veteran of the struggle for equal rights, or finding existing oral histories, and/or maps, photos, illustrations, census data, and local news stories and national parks materials, students will tell the story of someone in their area who brought about change in the 1960s.
  • The road ahead – students will define the changes they intend to inaugurate in their adult lives.

Narratives will be gathered from schools throughout the nation and placed on a special National Park Service website. Participating students, their communities, and a broad national parks audience of all ages will then be able to use the site as window into key moments in our national life, as they were experienced locally, and as a virtual memorial for the momentous journey upon which President Lincoln embarked 150 years ago.

      This project was developed by Dr. Marc Aronson in cooperation with Charles Forcey of Historicus, Inc. In the fall of 2010, the project team will provide a kit on the three themes, primary source samples and suggests, as well as links to Common Core Standards. Materials will be submitted through online forms; technical and editorial support will be available all along the way. A suite of digital resources taken from the  National Park Service and Library of Congress sources will be available for all participating schools.


  1. I am a librarian in a middle school in Houston. I have a few very capable students in 8th grade who may be interested in your project. Can you send me more information? Thank you very much,

  2. Marc Aronson says:


    Yes I will, and there will be a Webinar for interested teachers which I will let you all know about once we have the details worked out.

  3. I am a library/computer lab tech at a K-8 school in Santa Barbara County, California and I am also interested in learning more about the project for our middle school students. Please add me to your list. Thank you-

  4. Marc Aronson says:

    will do