FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Brian E. Logan
VIRTUAL BOOK LAUNCH HELD FOR “MASSACHUSETTS CHRONICLES” FEATURING GOVERNOR BAKER, PLYMOUTH 400, PLYMOUTH PUBLIC SCHOOLS, AND BRIDGEWATER STATE UNIVERSITY
PLYMOUTH, MA (September 16, 2020) — Plymouth 400 in conjunction with Bridgewater State University, Plymouth Public Schools and What on Earth Books officially released “Massachusetts Chronicles,” last week during a virtual event geared toward educators throughout the Commonwealth [see end of release for link to recording of the event]. This first of its kind book was written about the history of Massachusetts from its earliest time to the present day. Originally planned to be a large-scale in person event, plans for the launch were quickly converted to a virtual format shortly after the pandemic began. And, with live events shifting to 2021, this was the first of a series of virtual events Plymouth 400, Inc. will be holding this fall.
Published by UK-based What On Earth Books, “The Massachusetts Chronicles” was introduced to educators across the state during a special Zoom webinar to help commemorate Plymouth’s 400th anniversary. A total of 35 books were shipped to every school – 1,854 all told – in the commonwealth so teachers can use the new curriculum tool to instruct students the complete history of Massachusetts.
In recorded comments, Governor Charlie Baker said “Plymouth 400 was something many people worked enormously hard on to create a spectacular collection of events that were supposed to take place earlier this year.” Explaining that the events were impacted by COVID-19, Baker went on to reassure the audience that, despite the pandemic, Massachusetts Chronicles is “…an opportunity for students, teachers, others to reflect on all that’s come before us and to have a chance to incorporate that into how we all think about the world we live in today and the one we’d like to live in going forward.”
“We often think of the state’s history as dating back 400 years,” said Michele Pecoraro, Plymouth 400 Inc.’s executive director. “However, there were historic moments long before the Pilgrims arrived. The Wampanoag people settled here at least 12,000 years ago.”
At the webinar, Pecoraro and others involved with compiling the book outlined how the project developed and its purpose a new resource for teaching students about Massachusetts history. She was joined by Fred Clark, president of Bridgewater State University, Gary Maestas, superintendent of Plymouth Public Schools, and Christopher Lloyd, publisher of What On Earth Books, as well as educators and the authors, including Linda Coombs, program director of the Aquinnah Cultural Center on Martha’s Vineyard.
“As the largest producer of teachers in Massachusetts, Bridgewater State University is proud to be a part of this project,” Clark said. “The book will be a lasting legacy for educators.”
Plymouth schools contributed to the effort with guidance on curriculum details. Local staff provided assistance with planning for key subjects in the book: chronological dates, culture and social institutions, civic rights and responsibilities, geography, industry and innovation, individual biographies, and relevance to contemporary issues.
“The Massachusetts Chronicles” begins with the settlement of the region by native people, then covers colonization by Europeans, the fight for independence and establishment of a new country, dawn of industry, Civil War, civil rights, sports, culture and other important moments in the state’s history. The organizers also created a curriculum guide with a website full of digital resources to assist educators, as well as a large laminated fold-out timeline of events for teachers to display in classrooms.
The emphasis on Native American history helps fill in the blanks from the Pilgrim story most people learned in school. The book describes not only the contributions of the Wampanoag tribe to the early Plymouth settlement, but also how this culture was well established before European colonists arrived on these shores.
“For the indigenous people, it covers a lot of history that was largely left out or completely misrepresented,” Coombs said. “It’s not revisionist – this is all add-in. It’s a more truthful and accurate representation.”
“The Massachusetts Chronicles” is expected to be used by educators throughout the state as students start back to school in person or virtually this year and beyond as a new teaching tool about the state’s history while the 400th anniversary is underway.
Link to recording of the event: https://youtu.be/yuf5YIOmej0
For more information about the book, visit www.bridgew.edu/masschronicles.
For more information, visit the Plymouth 400 website at www.plymouth400inc.org.
About Plymouth 400, Inc.
Plymouth 400, Inc. is a 501 (c)3 nonprofit organization founded in 2009 in Plymouth, Massachusetts formed to lead the planning and execution of programs and events commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony in 1620. The Plymouth 400 Commemoration highlights the cultural contributions and American traditions that began with the interaction of the Wampanoag and English peoples, a story that significantly shaped the building of America.