Third-grade students from Eldersburg Elementary School didn't have to go to Washington, D.C., for the opportunity to check out a museum exhibit curated by the Smithsonian. They got that experience right here in Carroll on Thursday as they visited the traveling "The Way We Worked" exhibition at the Carroll County Farm Museum.
The exhibit is moving from organization to organization nationwide as part of the Museum on Main Street program dedicated to bringing curated exhibits to smaller communities.
"The Way We Worked" features displays about the history of work and the way it has evolved in American history, from rural to industrial to managerial. Students had the opportunity to learn about coal miners, secretaries, teachers and unionization. The physical objects were some of the most popular among the students, as they flocked to an old-time typewriter. One explained the object to his friend as "an old computer. You type on it and it prints the story out of the top."
As students cycled through the exhibit, teachers connected the facts and figures there with the lessons they learned in class.
Earlier in the year, students learned about migration to Carroll County in search of farmland and extra work, as well as the Rural Free Delivery which got its start in Westminster.
Student Christiania DeMino said she was excited to have the chance to visit the Farm Museum. She said she learned a lot from the exhibit.
"People back then didn't do a lot of the things that we do today," Christiania said. "It was interesting to learn how they did the things they did."
In addition to the Smithsonian exhibit, students got the chance to tour the rest of the Farm Museum with exhibits on blacksmithing, farming, horses, historic cooking and more.
Two of the most popular aspects of the day were the blacksmithing demonstrations — Charles Spertzel showed off his work as he forged iron hooks in front of the students — and the new children's touch room at the museum.
The touch room features authentic, historic cooking devices and was the one part of the day when kids could fully get hands-on with the objects they saw. They started by hosting a scavenger hunt, where students were invited to figure out what objects were used for what tasks in a 19th-century kitchen. Afterward they got to play pretend and make up their own meal.
Student Lindsay Craven said it was her favorite part of the visit. She said she enjoyed trying on the period clothes. She said she was surprised by how itchy the dress was.
"The Way We Worked" exhibit will be open to the public through July 14. Special events will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. June 18 with a talk on Carroll County's canneries and wormseed industry and from 3 to 8 p.m. July 4 with the history of the Almshouse.
The exhibit will also host special events at two other Carroll museums later this summer. The Union Mills Homestead will host an apprenticeship program June 10 and 11 and a speech by Mark Denny on the waterwheel June 25. The Gatehouse Museum of History will host a seminar on "Life and Work in Sykesville 100 Years Ago" on June 8 and 21.