History in a Box Facts

The “History in a Box” project is part of the Tustin Unified School Districts’ third grade history curriculum and provided by the Tustin Area Historical Society. 

Tustin City's new school house built in 1882 had two rooms on each floor. It was later expanded to eight rooms as the school district grew.
Tustin Elementary School Band proudly posing in their capes and hats, instruments at the ready c1953
The staff of the Tustin High School's biweekly newspaper, "Broadcaster", meets in 1955 for a yearbook photograph.
  • This project is a collaboration started in 1999 between Historian Carol Jordan, co-founder of the Tustin Area Historical Society, and Becky Cameron, a third grade teacher at Tustin Ranch Elementary School.
  • There are nine “History in a Box” trunks that are shared by the eighteen elementary schools in the area. Nine of the schools have possession of the trunks during the first semester and the remaining nine have possession during the second semester of the school year. Each third grade class in the district has the opportunity to have the trunks during the school year.
  • These trunks are large boxes with wheels and a pull-handle for mobility.
  • The contents in the box reflect life in Tustin from its early years. There are household items, costumes, toys, a buttonhook, McGuffy’s Readers, research books and even a stereopticon and slides along with many more items.
  • There are 43 laminated study prints which are copies of some of the Tustin Area Museum’s historical photographs with a short story of the photo on the back. Study print categories include pioneers, agriculture, businesses, homes, city and schools.
  • Also in the box is a Third Grade Curriculum Guide that includes information on “Life in Tustin”, “Historic Homes” and “Artifacts and Activities”. There are many more ideas listed than could be used during a school year so each teacher can select the topics which will interest their students.
  • The Tustin Unified School District picks up the trunks and delivers them to the appropriate school. At the end of each semester, the trunks are returned to the Museum to be inventoried and cleaned.
  • Each elementary school is encouraged to have their third grade students visit the Museum for a docent-led tour. We also offer self-guided walking tour maps of Old Town Tustin that many teachers follow to complete the “Tustin is my Hometown” history lesson. Over 700 students visit during the school year.
  • Contact us at the Tustin Area Museum if you are interested in participating or helping.