When we lived in Ohio, a good part of our field trips were focused around Ohio History. We visited the Ohio State Building, many Ohio Historical sites and local attractions that focused on educating the public regarding local history. What better way to learn than by actually experiencing places of historical significance and hearing about people that had made Ohio great?
When we moved to Alabama, it was only natural that I would decide to enhance our state study with field trips. When we learned about the early inhabitants of the state we visited Oakville Indian Mounds and Russell Cave National Monument. We’ve learned about the early settlers in Alabama, visited some historic towns and buildings, learned about some famous Alabamians, like Helen Keller, and even saw a few quirky sites along the way.
One of our favorite field trips so far has been our visit to the Alabama Constitution Village in Downtown Huntsville, where we were transported back in time by costumed interpreters to the year 1819. Forty-four delegates had gathered from all over the state to draw up a constitution, making Alabama the 22nd state.
We learned many interesting facts and tidbits. Did you know that traveler’s at that time wouldn’t rent an entire room to rest, but rather rented bed space? Just imagine how much sleep you’d get sharing a bed with three other adults on a hot July evening in the South!
The convention met not only to draw up the Constitution, but also to determine if women or slaves could vote and where the state capital would be. Many had hoped that Huntsville would be chosen as capital. People also questioned if voting should be a privilege of the educated. Could you be permitted to vote if you were unable to read the ballot? Who would help you make your selections and how could you be sure that the person helping you was a trustworthy person and not out to further their own agenda?
We visited the Federal Land Surveyor’s office and learned how the State was divided into counties, saw some of the tools that were used at that time to measure the land and learned that the Huntsville Meridian is in Maple Hill Cemetery, the oldest cemetery in Huntsville. The meridian is the point by which all of North Alabama is surveyed. Of course it’s on our list of places to discover one of these days.
We also toured the printer’s where we learned how the printing press was operated and we met the sheriff’s wife in his place of residence.
In the post office we discovered that at that time, postage was not paid by those sending letters, but by the recipients, who actually paid for their mail when they picked it up. They were charged per piece of paper so in order to be as frugal as possible, the sender would write across the page normally then turn the page and write on top of the words they’d just written. It was easy enough to decipher if the recipient would lay a piece of plain paper under each line as they were reading.
Throughout our visit we were encouraged to join in the presentation by pretending to be one of the residents or signing the constitution with a quill pen.
Our interest in The Alabama Constitution Village program, Up for Debate, led to an invitation to attend Earlyworks Children’s Museum for the President’s and Patriots program the next day. You can see a list of field trips that are currently offered at Earlyworks, the Alabama Constitution Village and Earlyworks here.
Our experience to The Alabama Constitution Village living history museum was very pleasant and I look forward to more visits in the future. This living history museum is appropriate for a large number of ages but is probably best for mid-elementary age and up if attending as a field trip. Though the walkways are paved, some of the buildings require that you climb stairs (some of which are steep) so this isn’t the best outing for wheelchairs or strollers.
You’ll find more information on their website or by calling 256-564-8100. You’ll find the village at 109 Gates Avenue Huntsville, AL. It is open Tues.-Sat., March through October.
Have you been on a field trip lately that you really enjoyed? Why not link up to Field Trip Friday and share what you learned? If you’re new here you may want to read the guidelines, otherwise, feel free to jump right in.
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