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In an effort to bring the true story of spirit, purity of purpose and steadfastness of will of the Mayflower ancestors to today’s youth, each spring the State Society completely funds classroom visits to elementary schools in the Commonwealth by museum instructors from the 1627 living history museum, Plimoth Plantation of Plymouth, Massachusetts. A number of schools have been selected for these visits in the Greater Erie, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh areas with approximately 15,000 third through sixth graders sharing in this experience in the past six years.

Classroom Visits

“I saw Lincoln, but I like you much more than him,” one pupil told the very popular “Myles Standish.”In an effort to bring the true story of spirit, purity of purpose and steadfastness of will of the Mayflower ancestors to today’s youth, each spring the State Society completely funds classroom visits to elementary schools in the Commonwealth by museum instructors from the 1627 living history museum, Plimoth Plantation of Plymouth, Massachusetts. A number of schools have been selected for these visits in the Greater Erie, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh areas with approximately 15,000 third through sixth graders sharing in this experience in the past six years. Museum instructors in the persona of one of the 1627 residents of the Plymouth Colony visit the classes in authentic costume, speaking the 17th century dialect of the English shire from which they originated, and with the knowledge of only what has transpired up to 1627. Each teacher of the class to be visited determines whether the subject will be the trip over on the Mayflower or day to day life in the Plymouth Colony. High on the agenda of each program is a lesson in traditional English civility and the demonstration of proper respect to others.

The instructor will select a boy and girl to play his or her siblings and then choose another boy and girl to aid them in donning 17th century children's clothing. The second couple then play roles of the Pilgrim’s father and mother. Very quickly a family’s typical day in the early settlement unfolds with morning chores followed by a breaking of the fast, planting corn, and a description of other duties. The effect of primogeniture on the siblings, the early settlement’s reliance on the native people for help, and the education of children in a school-less settlement are also discussed. Inner-city school children experiencing the visits have indicated that they can identify with the immigrant Mayflower passengers. Following the visits, the students often send letters, art work or poems to their Pilgrim. Often the same schools participate in the program annually.

Pilgrim-oriented Videos and Teacher Kits

Pilgrims: Then and NowAs it is impossible to fund classroom visits to all of the 3669 public elementary schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but still wishing to provide factual information about the Pilgrims to as many school children as possible. The State Society has purchased and donated seven of the latest historically correct Pilgrim-oriented videos to the audio/visual libraries of the Pennsylvania Department of Education’s twenty-nine Intermediate Units. The production of these videos was sponsored by either the General Society of Mayflower Descendants or the Plimoth Plantation. Recently a teacher’s kit has been presented to each school taking part in the annual spring Classroom Visits.

Pilgrims: Then and Now

In 1990 the State Society sponsored its own publication about the Pilgrims and how their covenant concept "played a major role in the formation of the church to which they pledged mutual aid in the care of one another." Their similar pledge with the native Americans promoted peace for fifty-five years. Thousands of copies have been distributed to schools, scout groups, etc. as well as each new State Society member.

Click here to order copies of Pilgrims: Then & Now