Three Miles, Two Creeks: Local Pennsylvania History in the Classroom


This article describes an undergraduate history assignment at Susquehanna University, through which students create virtual museum exhibits on the local history of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. Students narrate and interpret the Penn’s Creek Massacre of 1755 and the Stump Massacre of 1768. The goal is to tell a cohesive story and offer a clear viewpoint on the events while adhering to the research and design standards used by public history professionals. The historical content of the assignment emphasizes the diversity and violence of the American frontier in the decades before the Revolutionary War. The exhibition format highlights the need to think carefully about audience, voice, and storytelling, three aspects of making history that are often disregarded in student research papers. The ultimate value of the assignment is its ability to increase students’ awareness of the manipulation involved in the process of historical interpretation, even as they attempt to “get it right.”