Historic St. Mary’s City, MD, May 25, 2021 – Historic St. Mary’s City (HSMC), a living history museum at the site of Maryland’s first capital and the fourth oldest English Colonial settlement in the nation, with support from the Historic St. Mary’s City Foundation and the Rural Maryland Council, launched a new learning platform (www.virtualdigshistory.org) that will act as a virtual field trip for elementary school students, matching the state’s standards for learning.

The online platform was created to ensure students of all ages have access to the exhibits and rich interpretive experiences HSMC has to offer during the Spring 2021 semester and beyond. The virtual learning platform will feature an interactive map where visitors can see and explore the different exhibits across HSMC’s 200+ acre campus, along with media-rich pages for each exhibit location. 

Every year, HSMC welcomes almost 22,000 students, parents and educators on field trips that cover a great deal of information about Maryland in the 1600s (including simple machines and technologies used by both the native peoples and Europeans, the history and culture of the Woodland Indian tribes who lived on the western shore, the reliance on indentured servitude and the institutionalization of enslaving African and Indian laborers).

The Museum typically opens for these tours in mid-March, but due to the pandemic in 2020, the site was closed to visitors before opening day. After re-opening fully in spring 2021, the museum is again offering in-person field trip experiences for smaller groups. Understanding teachers and schools are currently under travel restrictions, the virtual learning platform hopes to fill that gap. 

“The virtual learning platform is a really wonderful addition to our public offering,” explained Peter Friesen, Director of Education at HSMC. “While nothing can replace the experience of being on site, learning about navigation while standing on the deck of Maryland Dove or smelling herbs of the heirloom gardens, the Virtual Museum website offers school groups and families a new way to navigate the living history of Historic St. Mary’s City without having to travel.”

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The virtual learning program can be accessed by the public. Interested educators and families can access content by following the link on the “Learn” page of the main museum website.  There is also a resource section on the website where teachers and homeschool educators can download pre-made lesson plans and supplemental content that align with Maryland State Standards of learning. Topics include:  history of the Yaocomaco and Piscataway peoples; primary sources; An Act Concerning Religion and freedom of conscience; the growing shift from indentured workers to a slave economy;  the European reliance on tobacco; the Voyage of Ark and Dove; government and civics; health and medicine; agricultural practices, and many more. 

“We hope this website will continue to serve as a resource to students across the globe long after the pandemic is over,” added HSMC Executive Director Regina Faden. “HSMC has an important place in our Nation’s history and we have only begun to uncover and develop its many stories.” 

To experience the Historic St. Mary’s City virtual learning center, visit www.virtualdigshistory.org.

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