Lo­cal teacher ad­dresses Chel­tenham’s Civil War his­tory in book

The Globe - - FRONT PAGE - By Jar­reau Free­man

In the area of Wil­low and Sy­camore av­enues in the La Mott sec­tion of Chel­tenham Town­ship, his­tory has left its imprint. This lo­ca­tion is where Camp Wil­liam 3Hnn VWRRG — WhH fiUVW IHGeral train­ing camp for black Union soldiers dur­ing the Civil War.

“This all hap­pened in our back­yard and our stu­dents, and stu­dents na­tion­ally, don’t know that 11,000 [black soldiers] were trained and went on to help win the CLYLO :DU,” VDLG EONLnV 3DUN School so­cial stud­ies teacher Lise Mar­lowe July 8. “When you read the his­tory books, th­ese men don’t get any credit. It’s frus­trat­ing.”

In a quest to ed­u­cate stu­dents about their lo­cal his­tory, Mar­lowe self-pub­lished a chil­dren’s book last year WLWOHG “FUHGHULcN DRuJODVV’ Dream” about Camp Wil­liam Penn.

Dou­glass, a for­mer slave turned so­cial re­former and writer, dreamed one day bODcN PHn wRuOG fiJhW along­side their white coun­ter­parts in the war. He tried to con­vince Pres­i­dent Abra­ham Lin­coln to al­low black PHn WR fiJhW, buW LLncROn re­fused, claim­ing it would cause chaos in the bat­tle­fiHOG, 0DUORwH VDLG.

How­ever, as the Civil War con­tin­ued and the Con­fed­er­acy gained mo­men­tum over Union soldiers, LincROn VLJnHG WhH EPDncLSD­tion Procla­ma­tion on Jan. 1, 1863, whLch wDV D VLJnL­f­i­cant turn­ing point in the war. Not only did this dec­la­ra­tion pro­nounce that all slaves

were free, but it granted the newly freed men the abil­ity to fight in the U.S. mil­i­tary. This ful­filled the long awaited dream of Dou­glass, she said.

A few months later, on July 4, 1863, Camp Wil­liam Penn in La Mott opened on land owned by Quaker and so­cial ac­tivist Lu­cre­tia Mott. The Mott Fam­ily leased the land to the fed­eral govern­ment for $1, Mar­lowe said.

“I wanted to make sure kids knew this his­tory and change the fact that it’s not in our his­tory books,” she said.

Mar­lowe spent three years work­ing on the book, mak­ing sure the con­tent was his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate but kid- friendly. The non­fic­tion book is about 20 pages in length, and since Mar­lowe is a sixth- grade so­cial stud­ies teacher, the book is writ­ten on a sixth- grade read­ing level with lots of im­por­tant facts about the camp, as well as his­tor­i­cal pho­tos.

Mar­lowe, who grew up in Chel­tenham, said she didn’t re­al­ize this his­tor­i­cal site was in her com­mu­nity, un­til she came across an old La Mott poster in the teach­ers’ lounge that con­tained in­for­ma­tion about Camp Wil­liam Penn back in 2004.

“There I was a so­cial stud­ies teacher for 10 years in Chel­tenham [at the time], and I didn’t re­al­ize this [site ex­isted],” she said. “I de­cided I needed to do some­thing.”

Sev­eral years prior to writ­ing the book, Mar­lowe and her stu­dents cre­ated a 65- minute doc­u­men­tary where they in­ter­viewed Camp Wil­liam Penn sol­dier de­scen­dents and cre­ated a 50- page book and a mu­ral, which hangs in the La Mott Com­mu­nity Cen­ter with a $ 1,200 grant from a lo­cal par­ent or­ga­ni­za­tion. In 2006, their work was rec­og­nized when Mar­lowe was the re­cip­i­ent of The His­tory Chan­nel’s Save Our His­tory: Teacher of the Year Award for cre­at­ing the pro­ject. She had the op­por­tu­nity to visit the White House, where she re­ceived her award from for­mer first lady Laura Bush, as well as a $ 5,000 grant for ad­di­tional his­tor­i­cal preser­va­tion projects. She was also hon­ored by the National As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple for her work.

“Fred­er­ick Dou­glass’ Dream” has been do­nated to sev­eral pub­lic li­braries and school li­braries in Chel­tenham. It can also be pur­chased by vis­it­ing h t t p : / / l i s e mar­lowe326. wix. com/ camp- williamp­enn.

“I want to make sure ev­ery­one ap­pre­ci­ates the sac­ri­fices th­ese African Amer­i­can [ soldiers made] for all of our freedom and to be proud to live in Chel­tenham,” she said. “This is all of our his­tory.”

Sub­mit­ted pho­tos

Elkins Park School teacher Lise Mar­lowe was rec­og­nized with The His­tory Chan­nel’s Save Our His­tory: Teacher of the Year Award in 2006 for a se­ries of his­tor­i­cal projects about Camp Wil­liam Penn in La Mott, Chel­tenham.

An Elkins Park School sixth-grade teacher wrote about Camp Wil­liam Penn, a train­ing camp for black soldiers dur­ing the Civil War, in a chil­dren’s book.

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