The Nantucket Campus is CLOSED, Boston Campus open for timed visits: Reservations REQUIRED

Educational Programs

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The Museum of African American History’s education programs are rooted in our historic sites, exhibitions, on-going rich scholarly research. collections of objects, documents, books and art. Our series of hands-on, interactive activities and programs provide a history learning laboratory in which students explore, transform, and grapple with their understanding of the past. This supports cultural, historical and visual literacy development and a multi-disciplinary approach for students and educators across grade levels and subject areas.


To study the African American communities of the past in the spaces where they worked, lived, learned, gathered, and advocated for freedom offers a uniquely powerful learning experience and personal connection to history. MAAH education tours and programs are designed to meet the Massachusetts Social Studies Framework and Common Core standards.

How to Book a School or Group Visit

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Please see our list of scheduling guidelines that follow.

Review Education Programs @ MAAH below and select the program that your group is interested in.

Complete the Online Program Request Form and return it as directed.

Expect a call or email from a member of MAAH's Education Department to confirm details for your visit.

Group Scheduling Guidelines:

  • All education programs require a reservation in advance.
  • All groups of 20+ participants must make a reservation in advance (for either guided or self-guided visits).
  • Education Programs and guided tours are offered Monday - Friday.
  • Scheduling is subject to educator availability.
  • Group size for education programs and guided tours is generally limited to a maximum of 30 participants.
  • If you have more than 30 people, we are still happy to work with you to figure out the best way to accommodate your group. Contact us for details.
  • Education programs and guided tours last between 60 and 90 minutes, depending on the program and grade level.
  • All on-site programs take place at the Museum's Boston campus located at 46 Joy Street on Beacon Hill.
  • Call for information about Education Programs being developed for our Nantucket campus.

Fees for Guided Tours and Education Programs:

  • All Education programs are FREE for Boston Public School groups as well as classes from Bunker Hill Community College.
  • Select programs are priced differently, check individual program descriptions to confirm.

Complete our Online Program Request Form*
Call our Education Department at 617.725.0022 x29
*Bunker Hill Community College Faculty and Staff, see additional information under "Collaborative Programs & Partners" tab.

Education Programs @ MAAH



The Abiel Smith School Classroom: Giant Steps in a Small Space

Grades: 3-7 | Group size: 30 maximum
[Pre- and post-visit curriculum packet available. This program also can be offered in your classroom.]
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The Museum’s Abiel Smith School was built in 1835 and is now the oldest building erected in the country for the sole purpose of housing a black public school. Susan Paul, the daughter of the Reverend Thomas Paul, the first minister at the African Meeting House and Catherine Paul, an educator, was a teacher at the Smith School and an abolitionist.

This interactive workshop provides today’s students with an opportunity to experience what it was like to go to school in 1835-1855 through a live historic interpretation of Susan Paul in the actual Smith School classroom. Taught by Susan Paul, the participants will learn how students learned to read, spell, cipher, and recite in the 1800s and compare what they learn today in their own classroom experience.


They Spoke Here: Abolitionists’ Debates

Grades: 10-12 | College groups | Group size: 30 maximum
Pre-visit lesson plan and curriculum packet provided in advance of scheduled visit.
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Using authentic words from primary source materials, students participating in MAAH's Abolitionists' Debate program form teams and present opposing arguments. Their topics are formed by studying significant issues using historic lectures and meetings held by antislavery societies, debate clubs, and women’s groups who met in the African Meeting House on Beacon Hill before the Civil War. Students learn debating rules while presenting and defending issues and arguments in this format.

Topics currently available include:

  • The Politics of Anti-Slavery
  • Equal School Rights

Do you have a different debate topic in mind? Call us to discuss developing a customized debate curriculum packet.

Complete our Online Program Request Form*
Call our Education Department at 617.725.0022 x29

Don't see what you're looking for?

If you have a specific education program or topic in mind, feel free to contact us and we will do our best to accommodate your needs. Other requests might include:

  • A historic re-enactor presentation at your school, workplace, or community organization.
  • A special presentation by a member of the Museum staff on-site or at your school, workplace, or community organization.
  • Seasonal workshops and/or presentations (i.e. Kwanzaa, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Black History Month, Women's History Month, etc.).

To request a special program, complete the Online Program Request Form, providing as detailed a description as possible about what you have in mind or call us at 617.725.0022 ext. 29

Programs for Teachers

Annual Teacher & Faculty Summer Institutes

Picturing Frederick Douglass: Most Photographed American of the Nineteenth Century
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Building and expanding on previous Teacher and Faculty Institutes, the theme of this year's Institutes is Frederick Douglass in conjunction with the Museum’s current exhibition of the same name. As America witnesses the ongoing pursuit of social justice in the Black Lives Matter movement, this premiere exhibit of more than 90 images and objects revolutionizes our knowledge of race and photography in 19th-century America and draws parallels between the use of photography by Douglass then and young activists today.

The Frederick Douglass exhibition places the famed orator and other 19th century black abolitionists in dialogue with more contemporary thinkers to inform a photographic exploration of the early use of the medium in their purposeful and powerful use of words and imagery in their pursuit of freedom, social justice, and civil rights, as well as artistic and creative expression from the 1800s to the present.

Designed for both first time and returning participants, the 2016 Teacher and Faculty Institutes will include:

  • An in-depth introduction to the Museum's historic sites in Boston: the African Meeting House (1806) and the Abiel Smith School (1835).
  • A tour of the Black Heritage Trail® through Beacon Hill, including stops at homes, schools, and businesses that were significant to Boston's Abolitionist Movement, the Underground Railroad network, and groundbreaking black authors whose works are featured in the exhibit.
  • Presentations by renowned writers, poets, and scholars of African American history and literature.
  • An introduction to online resources, databases, and tools for incorporating this historical content into the classroom.
  • Pedagogical workshops designed to help translate this rich historical content into curriculum units, lesson plans, and classroom use for your students.
Teacher Summer Institutes are open to K-12 educators and college faculty and free of charge for participants. Check back in Spring 2017 for information about next year's programs.

The 2016 TSI is made possible in part by generous support from:


Professional Development Workshops for Teachers

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MAAH is eager and excited to work with educators as often as possible and would be happy to be a part of other professional development events and workshops. We have worked with Boston University, the Gilder Lehrman Institute at Yale University, Bunker HIll Community College, Suffolk University, People and Places, and the U.S.S. Constitution Museum to offer professional development experiences for teachers and professors. Options may include, but are not limited to:

  • A guided tour of our current exhibit.
  • A guided introduction to our historic buildings, the African Meeting House and the Abiel Smith School.
  • A demonstration and discussion of our "Giant Steps in a Small Space" re-enactment program.
  • A guided tour of the Black Heritage Trail.
  • A presentation by a professional historical reenactor.
  • A guided visit to our Nantucket campus, including the African Meeting House, the Seneca Boston – Florence Higginbotham House, and the Nantucket Black Heritage Trail
  • Pedagogical Workshop on teaching the “tough stuff” of early American history in the classroom

Complete our Online Program Request Form*
Call our Education Department at 617.725.0022 x29

Classroom Resources

MAAH lesson plans and curriculum guides have been developed in conjunction with current and prior exhibits and are available for educators upon request.

If interested, email our Education and Interpretation Department at

The Abiel Smith School Classroom: Giant Steps in a Small Space

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Designed for fifth graders, this curriculum guide is designed to complement the "Giant Steps in a Small Space" Education program.

The lesson plans and suggested activities included can serve as pre- and post- visit activities or as a stand alone introduction to the history of the Abiel Smith School, the oldest public school building still standing in the United States, as well as its teachers and students.

Designed for both first time and returning participants, the 2016 Teacher and Faculty Institutes will include:

Find out what it was like to learn in Boston and Nantucket's free African American communities, while the campaign to end slavery was raging across the country.


Words of Thunder: William Lloyd Garrison & Ambassadors of Abolition

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Designed for middle and high school students in conjunction with Boston Public Library, this guide will help introduce your students to the abolition movement in Boston. It contains a variety of primary soure documents, images, and other artifacts for students to examine and analyze. Topics covered include:

  • William Lloyd Garrison and The Liberator
  • The Power of Music and Poetry
  • The Legacy of Boston's Ambassadors of Abolition

Black Entrepreneurs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

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This exhibition guide was developed in partnership with the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to accompany the exhibit, Black Entrepreneurs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. In it, you'll find short bios of early black businessmen and businesswomen, who seized opportunities to create enterprises and to participate in the commercial life of this developing nation. Use this guide to connect your lessons about economics, civic activism, and history! Click here to download.


Archaeology of the African Meeting House

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Archaeology is the exciting process of discovering and studying the material remains of past societies, connecting us through objects to people in the past. Archaeological findings have been a vital source of information about the African Meeting House and Boston’s early black communities for a long time. This educational booklet was developed in partnership with UMass Boston’s Fiske Center for Archaeological Research after an extensive dig which uncovered over 30,000 artifacts! Click here to download.

Collaborative Programs and Partners

Bunker Hill Community College

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Since 2012, the Museum of African American History and Bunker Hill Community College have engaged in a multifaceted institutional partnership, with the core goals of infusing place-based local narratives of African American history into BHCC courses and programs and engaging BHCC students and faculty with the rich history of the Beacon Hill black community represented by the Museum’s historic sites. To achieve these goals, BHCC and MAAH have offered Teacher and Faculty Summer Institutes, an all-new Learning Communities course, “Freedom Rising,” at BHCC, and an array of tours and programs offered for BHCC classes at the Museum.

NEW! BHCC Faculty, Staff, and Students, please use the MAAH-BHCC Partnership Program Request Form to schedule class visits, programs, or inquire about MAAH offerings.


MLK Summer Scholars

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Each summer since 2007, the Museum has hosted several Boston area high school students for paid internships through John Hancock’s MLK Summer Scholars program. In 2014, the Museum hired seven interns who worked together for seven weeks to research and develop the “Black Books Walking Tour,” a new walking tour for the Museum designed to complement our upcoming Freedom Rising: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Black Books exhibit opening in the fall. In 2015, the MLK Scholars created a video connecting the history represented by the Museum's historic sites with a current issue today, cultural appropriation. During the summer of 2016, the students became fully engaged in studying the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass. They embraced the lessons of his brilliant oratory and strategic use of imagery to advance the cause of freedom. Each summer, our Scholars have had the wonderful opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich history of Boston’s 19th-century black community on Beacon Hill, learn about the inner workings of a small non-profit, and gain valuable professional skills. Look for posts from the 2015 MLK Scholars on their blog. The MLK Scholars program @ MAAH is made possible in part by support from John Hancock.

Comments, questions, feedback? Let us know!

L'Merchie Frazier

Director of Education and Interpretation
Phone: (617) 725-0022 x 21

Complete our Online Program Request Form*
Call our Education Department at 617.725.0022 x29