Student Research

Founder’s Hall welcomes all researchers, including students and teachers, and is a proud partner organization of National History Day Philly. See the Research and Catalogs and Digital Resources pages for more information. Download the Founder’s Hall guide to this year’s NHD theme: Turning Points in History for more about specific resources in our collection which may be helpful.

Class Visits

Founder’s Hall welcomes school groups of all grade levels, from elementary through post-collegiate, for tours and activities in our collections. Visits can include a general museum tour or focus on a specific topic. Some examples of existing programs are listed below,but visits can also be customized to meet the needs of specific classes, drawing from any topic in the collections.

To arrange a tour or presentation for students, please contact Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources. Student tours are $5/student and full information about visiting the museum can be found under Plan Your Visit.

General tour: A guided tour of Founder’s Hall and the museum collections including the Stephen Girard collection and materials related to the history of Girard College.

War of 1812 Escape Room: Students will use primary source documents from the War of 1812 to solve puzzles and try to “escape Philadelphia” before a planned British invasion. Topics include maritime impressment, the impact of the war on merchants and the local area, and Stephen Girard’s key role in financing the war.

Celestial Navigation: Students will learn how 18th-century sailors used the stars to determine their geographic location. Each student will make their own sextant and practice using it; the program ends with a look at some of the nautically-themed items in the Founder’s Hall collection, including Stephen Girard’s own celestial navigation workbooks.

Architecture: Founder’s Hall is a masterpiece of Greek Revival architecture and one of the best documented buildings of its period. Students will explore the many proposed designs for the campus, examine the influence of the Greeks on architecture and public discourse in the early republic period, and discover how Founder’s Hall was adapted to serve many roles since its completion in 1847.

Civil Rights: Girard College was initially established to serve “poor, white male orphans” and the struggle to desegregate the school was a key northern civil rights battle that lasted 75 years. In this tour students will learn about the key Philadelphia figures in this movement, from Nathan Mossell in 1891 to Cecil B. Moore and the Freedom Fighters in 1965. They will examine primary source documents as well as film footage and oral histories.

Cold War: In the 1960s the basement of Founder’s Hall was one of many spaces designated as fallout shelters. After a look at physical preparations of the era, students will examine primary source documents that illuminate what it was like to be a student during the Cold War period.

Virtual Visits

Experience the Founder’s Hall museum online through our free self-guided Virtual Tour. The entrance hall, Board Room, Stephen Girard collection, and Girard College history collection are all available to digitally walk through, using 360-degree, high-resolution images.

Founder’s Hall also offers live guided virtual classroom visits led by the Director of Historical Resources, which can be general or focus on a specific theme. To schedule a guided virtual visit for your class, please contact Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources. The cost for a virtual classroom visit  is $50.

Classroom Resources

Founder’s Hall offers educator resources designed to help students and teachers engage with topics raised by Girard College’s history and collections and to gain knowledge and skills through examining primary source documents. Lesson plans can be done completely independently or can be used as preparation or follow-up to a visit to Founder’s Hall.

Desegregation of Girard College

Additional lesson plans from other institutions:

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