My Life in 1861 – Digital High School Project

There is a National educational initiative that is being launched in conjunction with the beginning of Abraham Lincoln’s presidency and the Civil War.

“National Park Service Memory Trail “Civil War to Civil Rights” A Digital
History Project for High School Students”

February 11-23, 2011, marks the 150th anniversary of president-elect Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural train trip from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC and the presidency of a nation on the eve of civil war. Inspired by that anniversary, the National Park Service invites high school classes from throughout the nation to join in a free national digital project on the broader theme of inaugurations – new beginnings.

The National Park Service invites students to create short digital narratives on one of three themes. My area in 1861 — students will create a portrait of where they live as it was just before Lincoln set off to Washington. A civil rights hero from my area one hundred years later, in 1961 — by seeking out and interviewing a veteran of the struggle for equal rights, or finding existing oral histories, and/or maps, photos, illustrations, census data, and local news stories and national park materials, students will tell the story of someone, some event, or controversy that inaugurated change around civil rights in the 1960s. The road ahead — students will define the changes they intend to inaugurate in their adult lives.

Narratives will be gathered from schools throughout the nation and placed on a special National Park Service website which we are calling a “National Park Memory Trail.” The entry to the site will be a map and each accepted project will be a clickable “location” on the trail. Participating students, their communities, and a broad National Park audience of all ages will then be able to use the site as window into key moments in our national life, as they were experienced locally, and as a virtual memorial for the momentous journey upon which President Lincoln embarked 150 years ago. Students are encouraged to submit projects at any time through the remainder of the 2010-2011 school year. For more information visit the project web page at

In addition, the National Park Service is commemorating the 150 anniversary of President-elect Abraham Lincoln’s trip from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC, on February 11-23, 2011, by revisiting sixteen cities and towns at which Lincoln made remarks. The commemoration will highlight what Lincoln said in each community as he tried to reassure a nation on the verge of Civil War. The program will supplement Lincoln’s remarks with the story of Lincoln’s election, the turbulence that followed, and Lincoln’s steadfast commitment to the principles of the Declaration ofIndependence and the Constitution, despite threats to the nation and himself. For specific information on the program dates, times, and locations, please visit