The Williamson Museum
716 South Austin Avenue
Mirabeau B. Lamar Award
This award recognizes outstanding heritage education programs and is open to individuals, organizations, curricula, programs or exhibits that promote historic preservation and local history.
The heritage education programming of The Williamson Museum features a wide range of offerings designed to meet the history needs of teachers, Kindergarten through 12. With field trips, traveling trunks and special events, the programs fill in the social studies gaps for many schools. More than 13,000 students have benefited from these programs in the past twelve months, engaging with real stories of the past.
The Williamson Museum offers field trips for every grade, meeting the needs of each class. Elementary field trips include four stations – two in the museum galleries, a walking tour of the historic square and a tour of the 1911 Williamson County Courthouse. Pioneer life, founding the county, cowboys and life on the cattle drive make up the gallery stations. Topics expand for middle school trips with mapping, WWII in Williamson County and Civil War medicine. Walking tours of the square introduce architectural concepts through the work of stonemasons and the iron storefronts, highlighting the varied building styles. Students learn about the buildings, through their use over time, as well as practical lessons on historic preservation and adaptive reuse of the historic places. Using historic photos and first person tales, students meet the men and women who built Georgetown and founded Williamson County. Stories of shoot outs, horses tied to iron rings and the circus coming to town make a lasting impression on the students. Finally, the courthouse itself, with marble from Stone Mountain, Georgia, original water fountains and photos of early pioneers and leaders grab the attention of everyone. During a mock trial in the historic 26th District Courtroom, site of the first successful prosecution of a KKK member in the United States in 1923, students sit in original benches and jury chairs, while deciding the fate of their classmates throughout the proceedings. Even a 2nd grader can understand bullying, so the story becomes real to them. The field trip is truly a day to remember.
The museum offers 14 traveling trunks to teachers in all 11 of the school districts in Williamson County. Those trunk topics include pioneer life, cowboys, cattle drives, immigration, endangered species, early school days, turn of the century Texas, playful pastimes, Civil War, archeology, WWII, Hispanic heritage, hunting and fishing and the American Revolution. Each one has hands on artifacts, primary sources, costumes where applicable, trade books and a binder of lesson plans with student and teacher resources. The trunk arrives at a school with a costumed docent for a presentation, and then remains at the school for a two-week period. Every student then has an opportunity to engage with the past and actively participate in social studies.
Heritage education is at the forefront of all we do at The Williamson Museum, and we continually work to inspire more students to discover a passion for the community they live in. With a major emphasis on math and science education today, teachers find it more difficult to enhance their social studies curriculum. The Williamson Museum is committed to making history come alive.
Previous winners: Kendall County Sesquicentennial Heritage Passport Tour (2013); San Juan Economic Development Corporation (2012); The Look of Nature, Texas Parks and Wildlife (2010); Bexar Land Trust (2008); Old Sixth Ward (Houston) Neighborhood Association (2007); Sunset Heights (El Paso) Neighborhood (2006); Huff Wagon Train and Diary Project (2005); Harrison County Heritage Project (2004); Dallas Midcentury Modern Tours (2003); Bedford Historical Foundation CD Project (2002); Christmas at Old Fort Concho (1996); Heritage Education Tour, San Antonio Conservation Society (1995); Fort Sam Houston Museum Historic Neighborhood Awareness Program (1994); Carson County Square House Museum (1993); City of Marshall’s 150th Birthday Committee (1992); Carson County Square House Museum (1991); Heritage Farmstead (1990); Carson County Square House Museum (1989)