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Gruenewald, David A., Nancy Koppelman, and Anna Elam. “’Our Place in History’: Inspiring Place-based Social History in Schools and Communities.” Journal of Museum Education 32(3) (2007): 231-40.




This article describes a teacher development program that engages history and social studies teachers in making connections between learning and the well-being of places in which people actually live. "Our Place in History" is a three-year, federally-funded professional development institute for twenty teachers from diverse communities in southwestern Washington. The project staff has developed a dense network of regional collaborators. Local museums figure prominently in these partnerships, helping to deepen teachers' knowledge of history, appreciation for the lived experience in their local places, and ability to inspire students to be historians and informed citizens capable of contributing to the quality of their communities. Our article is divided into three parts. First, we describe the conceptual underpinnings of "Our Place in History" with a brief review of two of its chief theoretical influences: place-based education and social history. Second, we describe its first year of implementation. Third, we give a more detailed account of an oral history project conducted by the teachers, which includes research at local museums. Products from this project will be collected into an archive for exhibit or a "traveling trunk." We conclude with reflections on the project so far, and discuss how we will build on our experience with place-based education and social history.