The Hancock Shaker Village is located in Western Massaschusetts and was an active Shaker community from 1783-1960. The village is now a Massachusetts State Historic Site. The web site provides a detailed tour of twenty buildings at the restored village, offers information about the Shaker faith, and offers an excellent list of web links to other Shaker communities and museums, research guides, bibliographies, and exhibits. Tourist information is provided.
To acquaint students with the basic beliefs and history of the United Society of Believers (Shakers). To acquaint students with the expression of faith evidenced in the objects and buildings the Shakers created. To acquaint students with the relationship between work and spirituality as expressed by the Shakers.
Target Student Population:
High School and college survey course. The site is useful for an architectural history and/or historic preservation course.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Basic computer skills. Some knowledge about the origins and beliefs of the Shakers would be helpful although that information is available on the site.
Type of Material:
Case Study with photographs, drawings, and some primary documents. There are detailed lists of materials used in building construction.
To supplement the United States History survey course, a course on historic preservation or architecture.
Evaluation and Observation
The site is both educational, informational, and commerical. The site permits users to navigate the Hancock Shaker Village and learn about 20 buildings at the historic site. The site provides basic information about the Shakers beliefs and links to other Shaker communities and research guides. The information is clearly written and Shaker architecture is discussed in a manner that is easy to understand.
Because many students may not know a great deal of information about the Shakers, this site will be very informative. However, more depth of information is needed for a more indepth study of this unique religious community.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The site is part of a commercial site. Lesson plans and educational activities are not provided. Therefore, the instructor will find it necessary to develop activities based on the information the site provides. There are sufficient links to other sites on the Shakers and research and bibliographies, so that should not be a problem. The site is easy enough to use as a learning object in a single class period.
The instructor will have to do the work to create learning objects from this site.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
There are no difficulties in navigating the site. It is fairly easy to go back and forth. All the links work well.
No major problems. However, there is too much information on tourism. More information on Shaker history would be helpful.
Other Issues and Comments:
The site developers should consider putting more information on the site and providing users with more photographic images of Shaker made objects which reflect their spirituality. The site is easy to use and provides an excellent introduction to Shaker life and architecture in 19th century Massachusetts.