The National Park Service has just announced 24 new national historic landmarks. They include sites related to some more recent path including the Civil Rights movement (Medgar and Myrlie Evers House) and the Vietnam War protests (Kent State shootings site). One quirky addition is the Davis-Ferris Organ, which can be found in Round Lake, NY, where it was used as part of a Methodist camp meeting. The organ was added as an example of mid-18th century organ technology.
The criteria for being named a National Landmark is described by the NPS on their website:
National Historic Landmarks (NHLs) are nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.
I poked around the National Park Service site but their database is down and the records that I can access are static pdfs. Thank goodness for Wikipedia! Here’s the list of national landmarks in Virginia. I think they meet the mission of “illustrating or interpreting” the heritage of Virginia. Historic homes range from Monticello to the Maggie Lena Walker house. There are Revolutionary and Civil War battlefields. There are slave quarters, seaside cottages and schools where the desegregation fight took hold.
The locations provide a guided tour of Virginia history and could spawn a lifetime of learning, finding interesting and odd connections. For instance, Richard Quiney, who bought Brandon Plantation in 1635 was brother-in-law to Judith, the daughter of Shakespeare. Wonder if he helped write the plays?
For younger students, identifying new national landmarks might make an interesting exercise. For older students, the discussion could go more in depth about the process of choosing the landmarks. Are there any groups or historical periods that might be underrepresented? What landmarks in their community help tell the story of their town or county?