The Montana Heritage Project Site History

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Stayin’ Alive in Harlowton
  A History of the Montana Heritage Project in 


, 2005

Classes that participated

English 11 (Honors)

Teachers who participated

Nancy Widdicombe
Michael Murphy

Students who participated


Total Number of Students Involved: 


Community Members and Teachers who participated

Joe Mayor, Community Leader
Mary Cowgirl, Local Rancher
Sam Antiquarian, Board Member, County Museum

Gifts of Scholarhip Created


Old Time Railroading by Suzie Honor Student
Becoming a Conductor by Billie Not Honor Student


Powerpoint presented to community at Kiwanis Hall, April 15, 2006
“Learning from the Past,” Speech by student Joe Blow to PTA, April 12, 2006

A Narrative History of the Project

Ask: Questions posed by Students

Why did the railroad come?
Why did the railroad leave?

Students were led to these questions by reading Book Title and Book Title. Classes discussed these books then interviewed parents and grandparents, asking what was most meaningful about etc etc etec

Listen: Researching the Historical/Literary Record

The first stage of research involved answering basic historical questions that arose while reading Book Title. Students spent three class periods at County Museum reading newspapers from the 1940s and 1950s focusing on etc etc

Explore: Contributing to Local Knowledge

Students added 11 new oral histories to the local collection. In addition, they scanned 17 photographs that had been in private collections and donated them to the County Museum. They wrote an article about the changing of the business plan in Harlo, drawing on local newspapers.

Reflect: Student Reflection Activities

The primary reflective activity was the writing and discussion of reflection papers following the first set of interviews.

Also team work in selecting the most important details for the powerpoint. 

Teach: Students as Teachers

Each student created an individual research paper.

Sam Johnson, “A biography of Sam Johnson, Senior, Engineer for the Milwaukee Road”
Mary Johnson, “Thirty years as a Railroad Wife: A biography of Sarah Johnson”

The class as a whole created a history of the post-Milwaukee Road Period in Harlowton entitled “Staying Alive”

It was presented to the community on April 15, 2006. 

Personal Reflections

The most challenging part of the project was getting students engaged. When I tried X and Y, I had modest success. Things picked up considerably once students had tangible objects, such as photographs and newspaper clippings, in their hands.

The areas that I thought were not as effective as I thought were A and B. These might have gone better if we had tried X or Y.

In general, the project was very successful. Students learned x and y. “This was the best thing that’s happened since sliced bread,” according to Suzie Suckup. 

Posted by David Hume
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