Spruce Mountain High School and Washburn-Norlands Partner for Civil War program


JAY — Spruce Mountain High School in Jay and the Washburn-Norlands Living History Center in Livermore are one of five Maine community “teams” recently selected to receive a Local & Legendary: Maine in the Civil War grant.

Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and awarded by the Maine Historical Society and the Maine Humanities Council, the grant enables local historical and educational organizations and libraries to explore Civil War history in multidisciplinary ways and investigate questions of that era’s motivations, loyalty, identity and politics at the community level.

The five community teams chosen this year, consisting of Bethel, Livermore-Livermore Falls-Jay, Pittsfield, Rumford and Scarborough, will each receive $2,000 and in-kind assistance from the Maine Historical Society and Maine Humanities Council to develop an online exhibit on the Maine Memory Network’s Civil War site hosted by Maine Historical Society, support community book discussions and a public performance piece. Visit www.civilwar.mainememory.net to see examples of other community projects.

Spruce Mountain High School’s and Norlands’ participation in the Local & Legendary program creates a stronger connection as an academic alliance and is a unique approach to undertaking the project and completing the terms of the grant.

Students taking a new class at SMHS, titled “Our Hands on History,” will complete the majority of the project. Created by history teacher Susan St. Pierre, students taking the class will have the opportunity to do the work of a historian.

Under the guidance of Norlands and school staff, the students will identify the collections at the Norlands to digitize and prepare an online exhibit, tentatively titled “Livermore in the Civil War: A Hand in Transforming the Nation” that will touch upon Livermore’s and the Washburn family’s participation in the Civil War and the effects of the war on the local community.

The students will do the research, learn how to organize their findings and to present their conclusions in a manner that is appealing and interesting to others. Additionally, students will take part in the community book talks to allow them to see that learning is a lifelong experience and that much can be gleaned from the community around them.

The first in a series of community reads will take place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 15, at the Norlands and is focused on “The Killer Angels: The Classic Novel of the Civil War” by Michael Shaara. The public is invited to read the book and attend an engaging discussion facilitated by a representative from the Maine Humanities Council. Extra copies of the book are available to borrow from the Spruce Mountain High School Library in Jay, Treat Memorial Library in Livermore Falls and the Jay-Niles Memorial Library.

Another upcoming Civil War-related event at the Norlands includes a concert by Dr. Stephen N. Sanfilippo at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 11. He will present “Ironclads: Maritime Songs of the Civil War.” Enjoy several songs with banjo or guitar accompaniment as well as several songs without accompaniment. Songs will be introduced in historical context and most have easily learned choruses and the audience will be encouraged to sing along.

The concert is a part of the Fall Festival at Norlands and coincides with a living history presentation on Sailor Samuel Washburn at 11:30 a.m. that day. Sam Washburn of Livermore was assigned to the USS Galena, an ironclad steamer, during the Civil War. He was wounded in the hip during a battle at Fort Darling on the James River near Richmond, Va.

This ambitious and challenging Local & Legendary project concludes in May 2015. Several community reads and other special events are planned. Keep up-to-date about the project by visiting www.norlands.org or www.rsu73.org.