Dickinson College / Gilder Lehrman Institute

Henry W. Spradley is not forgotten

I was quite impressed with Colin Macfarlane’s digital story about the black soldier Henry Spradley. It was refreshing to see this young student care about the past. He understood that finding out the story of this black soldier was important, to Colin ,Henry mattered. His gravestone had been removed and his contribution to the community,the college and his country was to be forgotten. This young man researched for hours and hours, followed clues and solved this intriging history mystery . He brought dignity back to the lost sole of Henry W. Spradley. He found a connection to the very school he was attending. Henry was a beloved custodian of Dickenson college , and a man whose funeral was so big they needed an auditorium for those whose life he had touched.   thanks to Colin a whole new generation can be touched.

The idea of solving a mystery such as this would really excite my middle schoolers. I can see my students wanting to create a “movie” by using some of the rich history our town has to offer. They initially would want to be part of a movie regardless of the subject. My job is to motivate them to want to find the history and eventually love it like I do. I have been fortunate to have worked on two historical docudrama films about Kansas through Lone Chimney Films and am eager to share my knowledge with my students.


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1 Comment

  1. salbertson

    I also enjoyed this video and thought it appropriate for just about any age group. It demonstrates many great attributes we’d like our students to have; perseverance, curiosity, ambition, and concern. It shows what one person can do. It would be useful to have students discuss why this project was beneficial and to give them opportunities along the way to make predictions about how this information might be used and what might have happened as a result of these discoveries. I love being able to show students that we are still learning about our history and with each discovery it can change what we once believed to be true.

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