Sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of History, the Smith-McDowell House (SMH) chapter of the Tar Heel Junior Historians Association offers valuable programming for WNC youth. The association aims to make history educational and fun with a variety of events held throughout the year.
“History helps explain the world we live in, helps sharpen critical thinking skills and fosters empathy and understanding of others,” says WNC Historical Association public programs director Trevor Freeman.
“Encouraging this interest while children are expanding and growing intellectually and emotionally sets them up to be lifelong learners, thinkers and active citizens.”
The chapter is open to school-age students and meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 4 p.m. during the academic year. In response to COVID-19, meetings are held via Zoom until further notice. Members may also join the private Facebook group SMH Tar Heel Junior Historians.
Typical activities include viewing artifacts, reading primary sources and creating plays and maps. A living history day, with participants dressed in 19th-century attire, is held each spring. A 19th-century schoolhouse scene is reenacted at the Hart Square Festival near Hickory each fall. Throughout the year, members are encouraged to work on a project of their choosing to submit for the Tar Heel Junior Historian Convention held each April.
“Our members are often homeschoolers who enjoy opportunities for interacting with other interested historians,” says Freeman. “Many also like the varied activities we conduct, but hands down, the favorite days for most are the dressing/reenacting events.”
Students in grades 1–12 may join the club any time of the year. Registration is $10, plus $5 for each additional sibling. Scholarships are available for those unable to pay the registration fee. Parents generally participate in the meetings and younger siblings are welcome. Prospective members are invited to attend one or two meetings before making the decision to join.
For more information, email education@WNCHistory.org.