The congenial, bespectacled historian donning colonial garb stands in front of the room as she folds a pointed star, instructing the class how to make a star in the same manner Betsy Ross did.
Karyn Confer, Delaware County Historical Society Education Director, historian, archaeologist and teacher heads the “Passport to History” program.
Established in the 1990’s and meeting the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania curriculum standards for social studies, Passport to History is an educational program that exposes students and families alike to Delaware County’s historical legacy through instruction-led, hands-on programs and self-directed visits.
The integrated learning programs are directed by Confer, who provides a variety of classes from learning the Constitution to archaeology; to crafting Betsy Ross stars to making native American corn husk dolls; to programs customized to meet the classroom’s requirements.
These classes are free to the students and are supported by EITC funding and by DCHS. They are available to public, private, parochial, and home schooled students. Since its inception, over 50,000 Delaware County students have participated in Passport to History, gaining an understanding of the important history that surrounds them.
The second component is the passport itself. Program participants are issued a passport that features nearly 70 historical sites that crisscross Delaware County from the 1696 Thomas Massey House in Broomall to the Brandywine Battlefield Park and 1724 Old Chester Courthouse and Newlin Grist Mill to the Thomas Leiper House in Wallingford and the Grange Estate in Haverford.
With the passport, the bearer can enter many of these sites for free and when they do so, they are issued a stamp. Adults accompanying these minors and minors in groups may be subject to a fee.
Students who collect five stamps in a 12-month period receive certificates but many have collected more than that, continuing their historical experience beyond the classroom. DCHS is currently working on hosting a virtual tour of many of these sites as part of a new digital component of the program.
A visit to the website at padelcohistory.org shows a listing of the Passport to History participating sites as well as the most popular in-school programs DCHS offers.
In addition to Passport to History student program, Delaware County Historical Society schedules programming for adults, including lectures, hands-on programs and tours.
To schedule Passport to History for your class or group, call Delaware County Historical Society at 610-359-0832 or visit its home at 408 Avenue of the States in Chester. It is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday; and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the second Saturday of the month. It is closed on Tuesdays. Appointments are also available upon request. Parking is free in the lot behind the building or across the street in the city’s municipal lot.
For ways to get involved, contribute, and/or donate items of Delaware County historic significance, please call 610-359-0832.
Karyn Confer, DCHS Education Director, teaches students how to make a Betsy Ross star during a Passport to History program.