Field Trips/Group Experiences
Experiences are designed to accommodate groups’ needs in relation to time spent at the museums.
- Highlight Tours are 45-60 minutes, and allow for our guides to show the group the most popular or relevant exhibits of the site. Highlight Tours are available at all sites
- Enhanced Tours are 90 minutes, and allow for groups to see additional exhibits, or includes a longer period of hands-on/interactive activities. Enhanced Tours are only available at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum, and Colonial Complex
- The General Field Trip Guide is a printable pdf that lists the options available, as well as amenities and other related information. Space is available for lunch during breaks at the Agricultural and Industrial Museum.
- Scheduling Tip: Remember to take into account travel time to and from museums and your school’s bus schedule when determining what experience is right for your group. Tours can begin as early as 9:30 a.m., and must conclude by 4:00 p.m.
Agricultural & Industrial Museum
Learn about York County’s many contributions to agricultural and industrial progress on a visit to the Agricultural & Industrial Museum. Agricultural artifacts produced or used in the county over three centuries include locally made wagons, a tractor, steam engines and farm tools. Try your hand at the interactive exhibit, Marvelous Milk: From the Farm to Your Table, where students learn about the dairy industry in York County and get the opportunity to milk our (reproduction) cow, Annabelle. Working industrial exhibits include a 72-ton A-Frame ammonia compressor once used to manufacture large blocks of ice and a three-story gristmill. Exhibits on pottery, casket manufacturing, dental supplies, piano and organ manufacturing, as well as York’s industrial contribution to World War II are also featured. Air, Land, & Water: Transporting People & Products, housed in The History Center’s 12,000 square-foot transportation wing, includes York manufactured automobiles, a Conestoga wagon, a York trolley car and a 1937 Aeronca K airplane.
The Colonial Complex is one of the most interesting York, PA attractions. The Golden Plough Tavern, a Germanic half-timbered building built in 1741, is the oldest structure in the City of York and served York residents and travelers into the mid 1800s. The General Gates House (c. 1751) was the temporary residence of General Horatio Gates, newly appointed president of the Board of War. The Barnett Bobb Log House dates to 1812 and is currently used during programs for artisan demonstrations and hands-on activities. All three buildings contain period furnishings, textiles, tools and utensils. The Complex also includes the reproduction of the 1754 Colonial Court House, created to represent the headquarters of the Continental Congress, which met in York from September 1777 to June 1778 and adopted the Articles of Confederation.
Historical Society Museum
This museum emphasizes the breadth of York County history from its earliest settlement through the turn of the century. The first floor of the museum includes a Street of Shops with a one room log cabin, print shop, an apothecary, and a millinery. York County tall case clocks, decorative arts and furniture, original drawings by local artist Lewis Miller, and the community exhibit A Place to Call Home is featured on the second floor. Students can also explore a comprehensive exhibit that covers York County history from its beginnings to the mid-twentieth century and includes the Susquehannock Indians, the American Revolution, and the Civil War. Temporary exhibits highlight specific York contributions and events.
York County Fire Museum
Located in the 1903 Royal Fire House, the museum allows visitors to see how York firefighters worked, lived and played. It holds more than 225 years of firefighting equipment, representative of the 72 fire companies of York County. Objects on display include 6 fire trucks ranging from the 1920s to the 1950s, 19th century hand-pumped equipment, the original stalls for the fire horses, alarm boxes, parade uniforms and photographs. Students can work on their firefighting skills by forming a bucket brigade and trying out a hand pumper (weather permitting).
Life on the Pennsylvania Frontier – Grades 3-5
Tour length: 2-3 hours
The Colonial Complex and the Agricultural & Industrial Museum combine to provide students with a complete experience of the early settlement years in York County. Students learn about daily life of the settlers, the role of the tavern in society, why settlers chose York County, and the resources they had available to them. Highlights include a visit to some of York’s most historic buildings and watching a 3 story water-powered grist mill in action.
You Say You Want a Revolution – Grades 3-12
Tour length: 2 hours
Students are introduced to a time when York was the provisional capital of the United States. In the Colonial Court House, students will re-enact the trial of Anglican minister, Reverend Daniel Batwell, who because of his British (Tory) sympathies, was accused of treason in 1778. A tour of the General Gates House will include a discussion of Marquis de Lafayette and the Conway Cabal. A walking tour highlighting colonial sites in Downtown York, including Colonel Thomas Hartley’s House and St. John’s Episcopal Church, rounds out your tour. The walking tour does not include interior visits of the buildings.
Traveling Trunks School Program
The following materials are available for use in classrooms or off-site.
Trunks can be picked up at the Agricultural & Industrial Museum between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday. The Education Department should be contacted at least three weeks in advance to sign out a trunk for a one-week period. Trunks are offered free of charge to our educational members. Trunks are $15.00 each for non-member schools, educational institutions or children groups. An organization may only sign out one trunk at a time. Trunks are most appropriate for grades 2-6.
Colonial America and the Revolution
Experience the life of an 18th century man or woman! A unique, hands-on experience is provided for your classroom as students examine reproduction Revolutionary-era clothing, tools, and games.
Soldiers and Civilians of the Civil War
Complete Union and Confederate uniforms and equipment give your students an accurate feel of what a Civil War soldier’s life was like. Ladies’ clothes show just how complicated and elaborate women’s outfits could be! Also included are reproductions of Civil War era games. A reproduction surgeon’s supply kit and School in the Civil War replica artifacts are available upon request.
York College of Pennsylvania Curriculum and Lesson Plans
Thanks to a partnership between York College of Pennsylvania (YCP) and The History Center, education majors enrolled in the course “Seminar in Curriculum” are tasked with creating grade specific content, curriculum, and lesson plans that incorporated visits, outreach programs, hands-on activities or other concepts and themes related to the general history of York County as the whole, and the relation to the museums, historic sites, or collections of The History Center. The History Center is grateful for the commitment of York College of Pennsylvania and the dedicated students who have given their time and talents to enhance the educational resources and offerings of the York County History Center.
All of the programs offered by the York County History Center conforms to the History Standards defined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Learn more about these standards and the Center’s compliance by downloading one of the following:
Museum Memberships for Schools
School districts and educational organizations that are Educational Members pay a yearly fee that covers the cost of tours and programs, including Traveling Trunks and outreach presentations, for the entire school year (September – June). Museum Membership fees are based upon student population of the District or School.