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Mass Humanities grant funds research at Historic New England’s Pierce House in Dorchester

Oct 11, 2022

Historic New England was awarded a $20,000 grant through the Expand Massachusetts Stories initiative from Mass Humanities to support Teaching the Full Dorchester Story.

How the funds will be used

This grant funds the hiring of a researcher dedicated to deepening the stories we share at Pierce House by uncovering information on marginalized people connected to the site. Those findings will support the design and delivery of a new and expanded course of study at the museum for grades K-12.

Re-visioning Historic New England’s school-age education curriculum provides an opportunity to tell a more authentic and inclusive story of Massachusetts’ early history. Teaching the Full Dorchester Story also provides students a more complete understanding of colonial and Revolution era life while encouraging them to examine their own relationships to these histories.

The researcher will spend the first half of 2023 delving into primary source material available through Historic New England’s collections and archives, material at the Dorchester Historical Society, city records, and other Boston-area resources, as well as from members of the community.

Continuing to add to the stories we tell at Pierce House

Historic New England has offered immersive learning experiences at Pierce House to elementary and middle school grades in Dorchester and surrounding neighborhoods for more than twenty years. The new information will be incorporated into existing programs or used as the foundation for a new program. Historic New England staff will pilot the enhanced curricula in the fall of 2023 and winter of 2024.

Re-visioning its program content is part of Historic New England’s commitment to inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility and a core component of its strategic agenda. The curriculum redevelopment at Pierce House is part of an undertaking to enact widespread narrative change and transform history education into a tool for social justice and robust civic engagement.

Expanding stories

Teaching the Full Dorchester Story is one of the projects funded through the Expand Massachusetts Stories program. This fall, Mass Humanities awarded $713,876 in Expand Massachusetts Stories grants to forty-two cultural nonprofit organizations across the Commonwealth for projects that include audio tours, documentary films, oral histories, and public events. These grants will reexamine and reimagine the story of Massachusetts.

Grants from Expand Massachusetts Stories support projects that collect, interpret and/or share narratives, with an emphasis on the voices and experiences that have gone unrecognized or have been excluded from public conversation.

See the full list of grantees. Organizations interested in learning about future grants should follow Mass Humanities on social media @masshumanities.

The grants are made possible through Mass Humanities’ partnership with the Mass Cultural Council, the state’s cultural agency, as well as a two-year, $700,000 partnership with the Barr Foundation in Boston.