Library Home page | Library Catalog
Skip to Main Content

Local History in the Classroom: Connecting Community & Curriculum

A brief guide to linking local history & community heritage to curriculum topics.,focusing on the Mid-Hudson area of New York State, by S. Gardner 2023





One of the most effective ways to make Social Studies curriculum topics meaningful is to show how they connect to a student's life experience. This guide shows some easily accessed resources for hometown history and simple strategies to enhance learning.  If you as teacher are using a national level document as a primary source lesson, always ask, "what is the local connection? Is there something close to home I can include?


  • What happened here?
  • Who lived here?
  • Were local people involved in this (broad event/topic)?
  • How did this (broad event/topic) affect the people who lived where I do?

Why it matters / curriculum contexts


Notes from Using Local History in the Classroom by Metcalf and Downey

Extracted by: S. Gardner, 2023

CHAPTER 3: Using Material Culture as Local History Sources

  1. Written records usually only represent the elite of the past.
  2. Built environment
    1. Buildings
      1. Central places: Cities, villages as contrasted with suburban & rural.
        1. What does the spacing, scale & form of the buildings tell us about their purpose and function?
      2. Materials:  What do the materials tell us?  Origin, color, texture?
      3. Activities:
        1. Study one house, has it changed over time?
        2. Study one family that has lived in a place for many years.
        3. Study examples one architectural style or one type of detail.
        4. Study construction methods (trades & crafts).
    2. Roads
      1. What does the placement, size, pathway of roads tell us about travel and living patterns of the past?
    3. How does the built landscape relate to the natural environment: geography & resources of the area?
  3. People
    1. Artifacts (heirlooms, tools, etc.)
    2. Cemeteries