MT. VERNON — The Jefferson County Historical Society was awarded a Certificate of Excellence from the Illinois Association of Museums.
The award was presented in October for the “A Day in the Life of a Prairie Child” program, which has gained in popularity at the Jefferson County Historical Village. The program was started in 2009 by a small group of Historical Society volunteers and now reaches children throughout Southern Illinois in public and private schools, home school groups and youth groups.
The Illinois Association of Museums awards program honors the work of member organizations in categories of conservation, preservation, exhibits, educational programs, periodicals, scholarly and popular publications, promotional and informational publications, audio-visual projects, social media and special programs.
The Jefferson County Historical Society was one of three museums in Illinois to receive the Certificate of Excellence in the Education category.
The program is conducted at the schoolhouse at the Jefferson County Historical Village, with volunteers taking children through academic lessons experienced by students attending one-room schools in the 19th Century, like a spelling bee and ciphering matches, penmanship and dulcimer classes. Other activities include old-fashioned chores such as washing clothes by hand and beating rugs, according to information from the Society.
Sharon Francois and Sharon Nichols, volunteers for the program, have previously discussed as something they and other members of the Historical Society wanted the community to be able to experience.
During the program, volunteers tell child participants how children in the 1800s spent most of their day in school — writing with quill pens and using ink bottles, and chalk on slate boards. During the program, games played by children, such as tug-of-war and dominos are also discussed. The leaders read the rules and regulations for how the school was operated, such as standing when addressing the class and speaking in full sentences.
According to the IAM, the Award of Excellence recognizes work of excellent quality, use of available resources, creativity and professional standards.
Nichols, Francois and Lucy Baker, who are all on the Jefferson County Historical Society Board, attended the awards ceremony in Peoria to receive the award.