Classroom Outreach


To inspire interest and facilitate understanding of our regional heritage, the Cumberland County Historical Society provides comprehensive historical presentations with hands-on artifacts. Traveling trunks can be presented in the classroom or at the Cumberland County Historical Society.


Native Americans of the Eastern Woodlands

Do you think that you could stand still and proud as your nose was pierced with a sharpened bone? Would you like to know how to make clothing out of animal flesh using only stone tools and brain matter? These were the skills and cultural expectations of people from the Eastern Woodlands. Using clothing, animal pelts, weapons, and tools, we will explore the fascinating and vibrant heritage of our county’s earliest settlers.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.3.A,B,C,D 8.3.6. A,B,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Early Settlers

Can you even imagine a woman of today wanting to have hips five feet wide or a man wearing skin tight pants that stopped at the knee? How about men and women parading about wearing white fluffy wigs and lip gloss made out of dead bugs? It may seem strange now, but at the time these trends made perfect sense. Examine how colonists expressed their station, economics, gender, and technology through material culture. You may find that you have more in common with the past than you think.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,D 8.2.6.A,B,C,D 8.3.6.A,B,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


French and Indian War

Would you have been willing to fight over dead animals and brass cooking pots? Scalping, abduction, massacres, ambushes; we had it all during the French and Indian War. As a vital hub for trade and transportation, Cumberland County held a strategic role in the conflict. Follow the emergence of heroes and characters whose compelling stories of survival and perseverance will astound you.

History Standards: 8. 1 .A,B,C,D 8.2.6.A,B,C,D 8.3.6. A,B,C,D 8.4.6.A,B,C,D
Reading Standards: 1. 1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


American Revolution

John Penn once said, “Every man in Cumberland County is a rioter at heart.” Learn the dynamic story of how Cumberland’s “rioters” became acclaimed patriots of the revolution. Many of these men enlisted as Pennsylvania Riflemen, whose skill and bravery became legendary. We will address the important role of women through the story of Molly Pitcher.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.6.A,B,C,D 8.3.6.A,B,C,D 8.4.6.A,B,C,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Early American Medicine

You will definitely be more inclined to wash your hands after hearing the incredible and often disgusting theories and practices of early medicine in Cumberland County. Even learned physicians like Hugh Mercer spent a great deal of time poking through bile, phlegm, and blood to diagnose their patients. This fun and thrilling journey through early medicine will make you grateful that you were not born in the 18th century.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C 8.2.6.A,B,C 8.3.6.B
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Slavery and Underground Railroad

Cumberland County held slaves longer than any other county in the state of Pennsylvania and yet was also known as a route on the Underground Railroad. We will explore reasons why Cumberland County held this dual identity. Hear the daring stories of courageous runaways and determined abolitionists and be inspired by ways that slavery gave birth to uniquely American forms of food, music, and dance.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.6.A,B,C,D 8.2.9.C,D 8.3.6.A,C,D 8.3.9.A,C,D 8.4.6.A,B,C
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Civil War

James Colwell found a cause worth fighting for when he ran off to join the Union Army. Unfortunately, his beliefs differed from those of his southern born wife, Annie. Their love story, set against a backdrop of war, reveals complex attitudes toward the conflict. Using diaries and letters between James and Annie Colwell, we will reconstruct civilian life in the Cumberland Valley during this difficult time, while addressing the trials of being a Civil War soldier.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.9.A,B,C,D 8.3.9.A,B,C,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Carlisle Indian Industrial School

During a time when the United States government was willing to spend $1 million to eradicate a single Indian tribe out west, Captain Richard Henry Pratt established the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Pratt’s enlightened idea was to “save” native children by turning the “savages” into white men and women. Critique the school’s plan to “Kill the Indian, save the Man” as you explore what it means to be stripped of your cultural heritage through forced assimilation.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.6.A,B,C,D 8.3.6.A,B,C,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


World War I

It was a time of astounding innovation. Air warfare, tanks, chemical attacks, flame throwers, and the machine gun are cast against the gruesome environment of the trenches that changed the world and set the stage for World War II. In the Argonne Forest, “Iron Men” from the 28th division made their mark. But this is not only a story about soldiers and technology. Homefront demands such as the Victory garden, women in the military, and females in manufacturing industries ultimately paved the way to suffrage for women.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.12.A,B,C,D 8.3.12.A,B,C,D 8.4.12.A,B,C,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Roaring Twenties

Have you ever wondered why the 1920s roared? The rapid cultural changes taking place in the 1920s were reflected in dramatic clothing styles and pop crazes. Learn how to “park” your corset, lend an ear to jazz, try the Charleston, light up a smoke, and visit a speakeasy. Explore ways that lessons learned during WWI and the Spanish Influenza increased social awareness and economic prosperity, gave rise to a youth culture, opened avenues for improved racial and ethnic relationships, and earned women the right to vote.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.12.A,B,C,D 8.3.12.A,B,C,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


World War II

Across America, the nation mobilized in support of the war. Cumberland County was no exception. Even school children sacrificed and saved for victory. Would you paint your legs to save on nylon? Eat pickled pig’s feet? Give up driving? Feel the weight of the war effort and listen to the unbelievably heroic tales of Cumberland County Medal of Honor winners John Minick and Jay Zeamer.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.12.A,B,C,D 8.3.12.A,B,C,D 8.4.12.A,B,C
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Police Action in Korea

“Die for a tie” was the name American soldiers gave the Korean conflict. The “Forgotten War” introduced napalm, jets, helicopters, a hot war against communism, one year troop rotation, and was marked by a harsh environment characterized by mountainous terrain and extreme weather, elements often associated with Vietnam. In three short years the conflict resulted in nearly the same number of American casualties as Vietnam, and yet it is overshadowed by the conflicts that preceded and followed. This war without a home front is a fascinating study of life and technology in the 1950s.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.12.A,B 8.3.12.A,B,C,D 8.4.12.B,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E



With humidity and temperatures that hit like a sledgehammer, guerilla warfare against an unidentifiable enemy, unique media coverage, and an agitated home front, Vietnam was a conflict unlike any other in American history. GI’s faced endless days of dangerous patrol, an elaborate tunnel system that safeguarded the enemy, booby-trapped trails, pongee sticks, and Agent Orange. Take this opportunity to learn about the engagement while handling trip wire, chicken plate, an M16, a claymore mine and other paraphernalia of war.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.12.A,B 8.3.12.A,B,C,D 8.4.12.B,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Western Civilization and World Cultures Trunks

These presentations were created for, but are not exclusive to, Western Civilization and World Cultures teachers, who need Cumberland County history to connect with the ancient world.


Toys and Games

The expansion of ideas from Phoenicia to Egypt, Greece, and Rome is explored through amusements. Find out how contemporary playthings made the trek through history with the Roman Army. Experience first-hand the ways in which toys reveal patterns of assimilation, adaptation, technology, warfare, politics, religion, and gendered expectations.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.6.A,B,C 8.4.6.A,B,C,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Pennsylvania German Belsnickel

What does Santa have in common with Ancient Rome? More than you might think. As Roman Armies spread across the world, their rituals intermingled with local traditions and were transformed. Germanic groups in America adapted their traditions to a new environment and constructed the Belsnickel. In time, through the work of Pennsylvania German artist Thomas Nast, the Belsnickel would be reborn as America’s most beloved gift giver, Santa Claus.

History Standards: 8.1.A,B,C,D 8.2.9.A,B,C,D 8.3.9.A,C 8.4.9.A,B,C,D
Reading Standards: 1.1.5.A,G 1.2.A 1.3.A,F 1.6.A,B,D,E


Walking Tours for Classrooms

Ideal for multiple classes, students on a walking tour will spend a day at the Cumberland County Historical Society and surrounding sites, experiencing the subject through hands-on activities, a walking tour, and an optional tour of our award winning museum. For information about the classroom walking tours below email Education Curator Matthew March at


County Seat Walking Tour

Walking tour of the Cumberland County Seat. Wear comfortable shoes to hit the town of Carlisle while visiting and hearing the stories of our fascinating historical locations including the Old Courthouse, old graveyard (aka Molly Pitcher graveyard), prison, First Presbyterian Church, CCHS Museum Tour, and Hands-On Presentation in the G.B Stuart History Workshop.


Underground Railroad Bus and Walking Tour

This hands-on travel tour focuses on the role of abolitionists and freedom seekers and includes walking sites in downtown Carlisle and Boiling Springs. Sites in Boiling Springs include the Ironmaster’s Mansion, the iron furnace, Island Grove, and the Daniel Kaufman House.


Carlisle Indian Industrial School

Come explore the former site of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, currently the grounds for the United States Army War College.  See 19th century buildings reminiscent from the days when thousands of Native Americans were brought here to learn skills necessary to assimilate into the mainstream culture. Listen to many stories of the students who were involved in one of the greatest, albeit failed, experiments in forced acculturation.

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© 2016 Cumberland County Historical Society | 21 North Pitt Street, Carlisle, PA | 717-249-7610