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Isaiah Thomas - Patriot Printer

In Isaiah Thomas - Patriot Printer, a professional actor wearing a costume and wig, comes directly into classrooms and impersonates Isaiah Thomas, the founder of the American Antiquarian Society (AAS). In an interactive presentation, Thomas tells his own life story and the history of our nation's founding through selected documents that the real Thomas either created or collected. All the historic documents and graphic images described in the theatrical presentation are contained in the online curriculum guides at TeachUSHistory.org and come from the collections of the AAS.

Founded in 1812 as the country's first national historical organization, AAS, located at 185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, is both a learned society and a major independent research library. Its mission is to collect, preserve and make available for study the printed record of what is now the United States of America from first European settlement through the year 1876. With over four million items in its collection, all fifty states and a good portion of both Canada and the British West Indies represented, and two-thirds of everything printed in what is now the United States before 1821 is included in this preeminent repository.

Through a series of carefully constructed lesson plans, students take on the role of historian as they study, question and interpret these primary-source historical materials. In so doing they refine such important critical thinking skills as: conducting research, formulating questions, analyzing and interpreting data, and making decisions. All key elements of the Massachusetts History and Social Science and Language Arts Curruculum Frameworks, as well as the Common Core. In particular, since the Revolutionary War is part of the fifth grade curriculum in Massachusetts, this performance and accompanying curriculum guide provide a perfect way to incorporate arts and culture into the history state standards.

Through the live performance and lessons from the accompanying curriculum guide students will

  • make connections between one man's life, the times in which he lived and history
  • understand how one person can make a difference
  • be able to categorize and analyze historic primary source materials
  • conduct research, amass evidence and identify points of view and bias in historic primary source materials
  • understand the importance of literacy to success in life

By combining an entertaining dramatic experience with ineractive examinationsn of historic materials, this project also helps students of various learning abilities interact successfully with the written word, as well as gain an appreciation for theater and art. In their evaluations, teachers and administrators have particularly noted how the performance draws students in, sparks discussion and "brings history alive".

Isaiah Thomas - Patriot Printer began touring throughout New England in 200 and continued through 2007. The show was revived in 2012, and brought to every fifth grade in the Worcester Public Schools. This included 33 schools and almost 2,000 students. The program was repeated district grade-wide in 2013. Over 10,000 people have witnessed this program since its inception.

Additional support for this program provided by the Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati.