Hands-on Research with THATClass and the National Archives

History Lab


Today’s post comes from Dina Herbert, Innovation Hub Coordinator. Dina recently chatted with Patrick Cronin and Thomas Neville about THATClass, their project-based archival education program for Washington, DC students.

Three high school students and their THATclass leader, who volunteered to help with scanning in the digitization lab at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on July 20, 2016.

Tell me about THATClass.  What do students learn by participating in THATClass that they wouldn’t necessarily get from their regular school year lessons?

THATClass (The Humanities And Technology Class) started with partnerships among teachers, students, local archives and experts, and a question: What if we replaced the textbook with archival materials? That led to authentic historical work, with high school students framing questions about forgotten stories, researching in archives, and using new digital tools to share their findings at a professional conference. The learning experience is unique because students (and teachers) are free from the normal constraints of school, a fixed classroom location, grades, and set content to be covered. THATClass encourages learners to uncover content in archives; this is…

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