K-12 Education & Adult Advocacy Programs | Charleston, SC

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Inviting Conversation. Challenging Conventional Thinking.

K - 12 Student Programs: Connecting Students To The Power of Place

We recognize educators’ critical role in helping students connect with the past. Our resources give teachers the opportunity to supplement the classroom experience with visits to our house museums. By exploring the house museums, students are engaged and immersed in the "Power of Place."

  • Field Trips
  • Plan Your Visit

Field Trips

We offer a variety of standards-based educational programs to suit different grade levels. Each program features a focused tour and hands-on activity.

After the Revolution: American Identity Emerging on the World Stage

Nathaniel Russell House

Nathaniel Russell was a successful merchant, who transplanted his life to Charleston from Rhode Island in the late 18th century. After the American Revolution, Russell’s lucrative trade business made him a very wealthy citizen of the new American republic. In 1808 he had a mansion built on Meeting Street, and he remained there until the end of his life. A visitor once described Mr. Russell as, “…living in a nest of roses…” – commenting at once on both the Russell family’s vast wealth, as well as their elegantly appointed garden on their large urban lot. This program examines Nathaniel Russell’s ability to accumulate wealth and influence in his adopted city through trade and civil service. Students will learn how the institution of slavery made that wealth possible through the cargo of goods and humans that Russell imported and exported, and they will explore the daily bustle of life for both the Russell family and the enslaved on the property. Students will understand how this location is both a symbol of prosperity and distinction, as well as one of oppression. Students will examine how a house like the Nathaniel Russell House was built, furnished, maintained, and inhabited by both the Russell family and 13-18 enslaved people through multiple generations, and how the life experiences of all who lived there shaped early American “identity”.

Contact for more information

Conflict and Compromise: On the Eve of the American Civil War

Aiken-Rhett House

The Aiken-Rhett House represents a time of prosperity in the city of Charleston. It also recalls increasing tension during the mid-19th century. As the country struggled to come to grips with its past and current dependence on enslaved workers, different attitudes manifested in the northern and southern states. This program explores not only the continued dependence of planter and industrialist families like the Aikens and the Rhetts on unpaid labor, but also the range of possible solutions being considered across the nation – from compromise and anti-secession movements to the conflict of war. Students will understand how the wealth and influence of upper-class families, as well as their changing tastes, had a part in shaping the trajectory of American history through a turbulent period. The experiences of different social classes and different genders will be considered and discussed. Students will gain insights about the significance of both the southern agrarian economy and the newly emerging industrial pursuits, as well as how African and African American traditions became entwined with uniquely southern and uniquely American identities that continue to persist today.

Contact for more information

Ask about customizing the experience for your students.

Traveling Trunks Program

Bring history alive in your classroom by checking out a Traveling Trunk or having a member of our education staff teach a lesson with your class! Based on the SC State Social Studies Standards, students will learn the curriculum while engaged in a fun experience such as telling Gullah stories, examining artifacts and analyzing documents. Trunks and in-class activities are designed for grades K-8.

Classes and trunk themes are:

  • Archaeology and Daily Life
  • American Revolution
  • Gullah Culture & Cash Crops

Request a Traveling Trunk Learn More

King Charles to King Cotton

Immerse your students in 300 years of South Carolina's story with a engaging standards-based field trip! The Nathaniel Russell House has teamed up with The Powder Magazine and Old Slave Mart Museum on an educational adventure that spans the state's history from 1670 when Charles Town was settled to 1860 when cotton was the king of cash crops. This field trip is designed for South Carolina Public Schools, curriculum-based and includes hands-on activities and a scavenger hunt that connects the three sites.

Download the Teacher Guide

Plan Your Visit

We're delighted you are interested in visiting us. Please do let us know if you have questions.

How to Schedule a Visit

  • Advance reservations are required. Reservations are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. We recommend booking one-month in advance, but can generally accommodate bookings with two-week's notice.
  • Written cancellation is required. Groups not cancelling in writing at least 10 days prior to the visit will be charged 20% of total due.
  • Full payment is due by the start of the tour. We accept cash, check and all major credit cards. Checks should be made payable to Historic Charleston Foundation.
  • You will be billed for the number of attendees on your registration form.
  • Please view PDFs for pricing and logistics of education programs.
  • Our Education Coordinator will email you with confirmation, an invoice and additional logistical information.
  • Pre-visit and post-visit guides are available to help prepare your students. Please check the Teacher Resources Tab.
  • Morning visits are preferable for scheduling house tours/activities and walking tours.
  • 100 students is maximum capacity for a field trip. (50 students per house at a time.) Additional students may be accommodated over subsequent days.
  • 1 teacher or chaperone per 10 students is the maximum allowed.
  • Students should leave belongings on the bus when touring.
  • Nearby parks are available for lunch locations following the education program.
  • Contact Grahame Long, Director of Museums with any questions and to book your trip!

Teacher Resources

Teacher Resources by Historic Charleston Foundation

Historic Charleston Foundation’s Teacher Resources support educators in making social studies fun and engaging for their students. We've developed several classroom activities that may to be used as pre/post visit Lessons. These activities complement field trips to our historic house museums or may be used as standalone curriculum support.

Before or after visiting the Aiken-Rhett House and/or Nathaniel Russell House, students may enjoy writing in a journal page or using the venn diagram. These activities will help them make comparisons and develop empathy for historic figures of the past while allowing them to make connections to their textbooks. They are designed for various grade levels based on the South Carolina Social Studies Standards. These and other activities are found below.

If you have not scheduled a field trip with us, be sure to do that using our online reservation form found here, or rent out a traveling trunk with artifacts and lesson plans to bring into your classroom!

Adult and Family Programs

Our adult programs range from engaging talks on preservation, history and craftsmanship to forums on current issues like transportation, mobility and rising sea levels. The Festival of Houses and Gardens is the Foundation’s largest educational program, designed to celebrate Charleston’s distinctive architecture and the Lowcountry culture. To reach an audience near and far, the Foundation has developed a variety of virtual programming available on our Blog. Visit our Events page for a more detailed list of programs and events.

History Matters

Preserved as Found: The Ongoing Work to Study and Conserve the Aiken-Rhett House

A few weeks ago, our summer interns Madelyn Reber and Amanda Nestor completed an update to an interior plaster crack study at the Aiken-Rhett House. This study began in 2009…

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Three Strikes and You’re Out! A Carolina Day Celebration

Celebrate Carolina Day with us on Friday, June 28th at 9:30 am before the annual parade at 11:30 am. This Family-friendly event will include games, crafts, story time, breakfast bites…

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The Next Phase of the Kitchen House

As summer is heating up, so are preservation activities at both House Museums thanks in part to the Foundation’s new Museums Advisory Committee. This dedicated group is made up of…

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