K-12 News

Creelsboro projects helps students appreciate rural heritage

A new set of educational materials shines a light on an often-overlooked part of history: the rural areas of Kentucky.

KET has partnered with the Kentucky Archaeology Survey (KAS) to create educational materials to go with the new documentary Creelsboro and the Cumberland: A Living History.

The documentary was made by KAS and Voyageur Media Group as part of a mitigation plan surrounding construction of the U.S. 127 bypass, which is being moved off Wolf Creek Dam. Documenting the story of the people who lived in the area affected by road construction is one way to preserve its cultural history.

The Creelsboro Rural National Register Historic District extends about 10 miles along the Cumberland River, from Wolf Creek Dam to Rockhouse Natural Bridge in Russell and Clinton counties in south-central Kentucky.

With the Creelsboro and the Cumberland educational materials, students can learn about everyday life in rural Kentucky.

“There are thousands of teachers in Kentucky with students from rural areas like the Creelsboro valley,” said Tom Law, Creelsboro documentary producer/director and Voyageur Media Group president. “The Creelsboro project helps students not only understand that the history of their communities and families are important, but also some of the methods professional scholars and residents use to research.”

David Pollack, KAS director and documentary executive producer, said the Creelsboro materials allow teachers to show students the value in their own heritage. “Anywhere one lives has a story to tell–even what now appears to be a small, forgotten town has an interesting history. The video highlights the importance of local businesses to the community and the region’s economy.”

Archaeology, because it involves discovery and inquiry, makes history come alive for students, according to A. Gwynn Henderson, education director of the KAS.

“Students think history is a done deal. Over and finished, not negotiable,” she said. “Archaeology, on the other hand, is about discovery. Students become involved in creating facts, creating knowledge. Like detectives, they solve the puzzles of the past through archaeology. Students see archaeology as an exotic way to discover the past–yes, even Kentucky’s past.”

The film also enhances what students can learn about U.S. history. Law said the Creelsboro film connects with history of Native Americans, European settlement, flood control projects, the Civil War,  and transportation, from riverboats to railroads to highways.

Many of the major themes in world history are reflected in the film, such as population patterns, economic networks, and technology and the environment.

Creelsboro and the Cumberland educational resources are in KET’s Kentucky Studies collection in PBS LearningMedia. Topics covered are Using Primary Materials, Rural Economy, Life in Rural Kentucky. Materials also include a video about the work of documentary artist Dennis Thrasher and two interactives: Creelsboro Landing, 1890, and Irving Store, 1920, where students click on different parts of Thrasher’s paintings to learn more.