The Middlesex County Museum and Historical Society and the Middlesex County Elementary School are joining together to develop educational materials for students to learn more about local history. The ninety-one students enrolled in the fifth grade this year will be participants in the newly developed curriculum, following on the heels of the Virginia history they studied in the fourth grade. Utilizing the museum’s extensive collection as a focal point for the project, official first-person documents will be added from within the county’s archives, as well as other universities, museums and archive collections as supporting materials. The students will work with plats, deeds, wills, maps, letters and journals to gain knowledge from our previous county residents. Museum director Holly Horton will help to cross-reference materials to meet the established learning goals for math, literacy, social studies, history, etc. An example could be census records dissected to look at math applications of population density with percentages of residents broken down by various demographics.
Thanks to the foresight of County Clerk Philemon T. Woodward who moved our documents during the Civil War, Middlesex has its early documents. They were not burned in Richmond as was the fate of so many of our surrounding counties’ documents.
The museum’s new exhibit “Middlesex Early Inhabitants” will be the focus of the first segment of the programming. Utilizing segments of John Smith’s maps and journals, Native life in our area will be defined and explored. Who were Middlesex County residents at that time? What did they eat, where did they sleep, how did they socialize, what were their family units like?
Moving forward in time, census data, deeds, plats, indentured and enslaved labor records as well as militia registrations from the following centuries will be poured over and organized into timelines and grouped into projects that will open discussion about early life in Middlesex County and what it involved. While broken up into small groups, students will become modern detectives, noticing details and gaining clues that help to highlight important aspects of our past residents and their time here within our county’s borders.