Field Trip to The Filson: Educational Programming

By Brian R. Pollock
Education and Special Events Assistant

A map of the United States aids students in visualizing Lewis and Clark's geographical trail across the country. As we commemorate the Bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, The Filson’s Lewis and Clark programming has grown to meet the demands of teachers in providing the history behind the journey.  Programming includes tours of our exhibit at Filson on Main “Lewis and Clark: The Exploration of the American West, 1803-1806,” a one-man play entitled The Great Journey, and a Lewis and Clark history trunk.

“Lewis and Clark: The Exploration of the American West, 1803-1806”

Students experience the journey beginning with the settlement of frontier Kentucky where they meet Daniel Boone and other frontiersmen who cleared the way for families like the Clarks to settle the First West.  Through the journals and letters of Lewis and Clark, the students encounter the mysteries, wonders, and dangers of the unknown.  They then learn the fate of the courageous individuals who risked their lives on this remarkable journey.  All of this is done with a scavenger hunt, which allows the students to actively participate in their experience at Filson on Main. 

The Great Journey

In The Great Journey, William Clark tells the tale of his expedition to the Pacific Ocean.  He leads students up the Missouri River with stops along the way to meet the American Indians, explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, and identify new animals and plants.  Students experience the fear inspired by the grizzly bear, the distress over the loss of life, and the satisfaction of a mission accomplished upon returning from the Pacific.

Lewis and Clark History Trunk

Education coordinator Brian Pollock demonstrates how William Clark would have used a sextant in mapmaking during the Expedition.  The sextant and other items from the Lewis and Clark trunk provide students with a hands-on learning experience. This trunk gives a hands-on approach for students to discover the history of the Expedition and bring the journey to life.  The students participate in a conversation about the trek west and the many encounters along the trail.  Included in the trunk are a cast of a grizzly bear track, a compass, and flint and steel.  You can see the sparks of interest as the students see, feel and hear the history.  Not only can the trunk be included in a visit to the exhibit, it can also be a part of the classroom experience as we pack up our trunk and travel to the schools.

The immediacy of the Bicentennial has brought Lewis and Clark to the forefront of historical education this fall, but our programming does not stop with the Expedition.  We continue to offer programming for many historical time periods in our region’s history.  These include a Frontier Kentucky Trunk and a Civil War Trunk.  There is also a one-man play about the Civil War.

One Wore Blue, One Wore Gray

This performance is the story of two Louisvillians who fought on opposite sides during the Civil War.  The storyteller shares the tale of Alfred Pirtle and Johnny Green, showing the many differences among soldiers in the Civil War.  The rich man’s son goes to fight for the Union as an officer while the poor Kentuckian enlists as a soldier.  The two different experiences come together on a battlefield in Tennessee as these men’s different paths finally collide.

Have Trunk, Will Travel

In an effort to make history more available to our schools, The Filson educational staff has packed up our program and headed out on the road.  We have brought our programming in to Jefferson County schools as well as private/parochial schools in the Louisville area but we don’t stop at the Gene Snyder.  The trunks and our one-man presentations have traveled to Pulaski, Anderson, and Bullitt County, to name a few.  The Filson brings history to students daily, reaching over 60 school groups this school year.

The Ferguson Mansion

Of course, we can’t forget the gem of a home that we call our headquarters.  School groups coming to our 3rd Street location experience the lifestyle of the Ferguson family in one of the first homes in Louisville to have central heating.  The many unique features of the home educate students about the early 20th century.  As an added bonus, students are introduced to significant Kentuckians through our portraiture collection.  Tours of the home may also include a visit to the museum to see Kentucky from Daniel Boone to the Civil War.

Teacher Resource Guides

It is important that we provide teachers with as much information as possible to insure an enjoyable and educational experience for their students.  We have developed resource guides for many of these programs and need additional input from teachers.  If you are an educator who would be interested in reviewing and critiquing our programming, please contact The Filson at 502-635-5083 to join our Educators Advisory Panel.  With your help, we can make sure that The Filson provides any assistance that is needed in educating our region.


Contact Us

Volume 4, Number 2

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The Filson Historical Society
1310 South Third Street - Louisville, KY 40208
Phone: (502) 635-5083 Fax: (502) 635-5086

The Ferguson Mansion and Office

Monday - Friday: 9 am. - 5 pm.
Saturday and Sunday closed
Monday - Friday: 9 am. - 5 pm.
Saturday: 9 am. - 12 noon