Keeping history alive

Richard Harker

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb. 16, 2015) – When the state curriculum changed to require Holocaust…

Georgia (Feb 16, 2015)

KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb. 16, 2015) – When the state curriculum changed to require Holocaust education in fifth-grade social studies, the Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State University made it its mission to provide age-appropriate materials to some of Georgia’s youngest students.

“There were no materials for them, and we wanted to change that,” said museum professional Richard Harker. “So we created this traveling exhibit, ‘Never Forget: An Introduction to the Holocaust.’”

This exhibit consists of 10 panels and an accompanying traveling trunk filled with items that answer questions such as: “What was Jewish life like before the Holocaust? “Who were the Nazis? and “What should I do now? There is also a companion teacher’s guide with lesson plans, a timeline and vocabulary words.

“We know how hard this is for teachers to teach,” Harker said. “For them to have this resource that tells the story in a responsible and age-appropriate way is important to us and impactful for them.”

The crown jewel of the trunk, however, is perhaps a DVD with clips from an interview with 93-year-old Holocaust survivor and Sandy Springs resident Norbert Friedman, who survived 11 concentration camps.

“We have him tell his story as a way to convey history,” Harker said. “Telling the story through one person’s eyes really makes a difference. This is a really rich project, and we’ve received such positive feedback.”

In January alone, more than 1,000 fifth- and sixth-grade students laid eyes upon the traveling exhibit. The museum has a total of eight traveling trunks and seven traveling exhibits focused on topics surrounding World War II and the Holocaust. The exhibits and trunks are free to borrow by any school in Georgia.

“We do a lot in schools because field trip budgets are nonexistent, but that’s beginning to change a little bit with the end of the recession,” Harker said. “The trunks bring a different dimension for them to learn about his period in history.”

Last year, Harker said the museum’s education outreach efforts, including the trunks and traveling exhibits, reached about 33,000 students in the university’s service area – metro Atlanta and Northwest Georgia.

“We want students to know the lessons of the Holocaust are still relevant today,” Harker said.

In a nod to the museum’s growing reputation and influence, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., selected KSU’s Museum of History and Holocaust Education as one of 10 museums around the country as a partner for a recent teacher education workshop.

-- Jennifer Hafer

-- Photo by: Anthony Stalcup


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit