Every town seems to have a “thing” to do during the summer—here on the North Shore of Massachusetts, beaches are everywhere, but whether you live by a coast, a lake, a zoo, or the mountains, you’re living in a place where other people have lived before you.
Try taking a weekend “vacation” to explore the historic elements of your town that you probably pass by and don’t think about, or maybe just know the barest facts on.
*Create a marker-monument hunt as you actually READ all those historic markers and statue-base inscriptions; and when you get home, read up on those people/events some more. Visit the Historical Marker Database to get started, or set out for some you’re already aware of.
*Visit your local historical society; they’re run by dedicated historians and volunteers—you just might end up making good friends, discover a fun place to volunteer, or find a valuable source for local information.
*Create a list of important historic persons who lived their whole lives in your town, and head off to the cemetery! Check off the people you’re able to find, and photograph their headstones (if allowed–check your local rules). Even besides from the dates (rather obvious, there!), you can learn about the time a headstone was created in by the material that was used, the images that are on it (cherub? skull? floral?), and other aspects. An excellent guide that features a number of things to look for and questions to ask, can be found here (.pdf file).
*Find out what Native American nation lived in your area, and discover what issues they’re facing today. Was there migration? Were they able to stay there?
*Have any archaeological excavations been done in your area? Try contacting your state archaeologist’s office to see if there’s any sites you could tour or even volunteer at.
*Notebook or Lapbook it, and record the research you’re able to do all over the state! Pull over when you spot markers, Google historic houses, and record all that you’ve learned with photographs and short essays; keep adding to it, and soon you’ll be experts in local lore & history!