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Legacy Center Grant Invites High School Students to Become History Detectives

May 21, 2012

Students use collections from Queen Lane Legacy Center

The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections at Drexel’s Queen Lane Campus was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Heritage Philadelphia Program (HPP) of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage to develop Playing with the Past: A Digital History Toolkit, a web resource that will make the center’s rich online Women in Medicine collection easily accessible to a new audience of high school students. 

The toolkit will use guided discovery to enable students to become history detectives, conducting their own research in American history by exploring the stories of pioneering medical women. The center’s project planning phase revealed that high school students care deeply about issues of gender inequality and social justice. Approaching historical topics through the lens of individual women’s experience provides, in the words of one student, “a way in,” to history for students who are unmoved by traditional history curricula. Through the toolkit, students will uncover stories from the archives that resonate with their own lives, and begin to see how their own histories matter.  

The center’s collections give substance and meaning to what students are facing today, while encouraging historically informed civic engagement and inspiring young people, especially girls, to pursue careers in science and medicine.

Heritage Philadelphia Program's 2012 grant proposals were evaluated by a panel of experts, recognized for their leadership in the fields of historical interpretation, preservation, and community/civic engagement. The panel is charged with selecting those projects that demonstrate imagination and excellence in public history practice, and which involve exceptional audience-centered programming. The Legacy Center was one of only three interpretation implementation grant awardees whose projects “push beyond conventional boundaries of historic interpretation and preservation, and place a strong emphasis on imaginative outreach to a broad range of audiences.”

For a full list of Heritage Philadelphia grant recipients, visit

--Melissa Mandell