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Check our links at the top of this page and in the left column: our most frequently asked question (FAQ) is

Why read Sherlock Holmes today?

2014 Jan Stauber Grant Funding is at an all-time high of $7,000. Individual grants may be funded up to $500 each

The 2014 Application is available now -- the deadline is May 1, 2014. Guidelines are included with the application, which can be downloaded as a PDF or MS Word file.

What's the Official Charity of 221B Con?

The Beacon Society, that's who! We're a 501(c)(3) organization, proud and happy to be featured at 221B Con in Atlanta, GA on April 4-6. There will be a "Teaching Sherlock" panel featuring Beacon Award winners Shannon Carlisle (2013) and Tim Greer (2014) along with cartoonist Chris Schweizer and Beacon officers Marino Alvarez and Marilynne McKay. We'll also have a Special 221B Con Souvenir Edition of "Silver Blaze" and a newly-designed Beacon pin for sale!

Timothy S. Greer, winner of the 2014 Beacon Award

Pictured with Beacon Head Light Susan Diamond (left) and outgoing Awards & Grants Chair Elaine Coppola (right),  Timothy S. Greer was honored at the Beacon Annual Meeting at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City in January. He is an instructor in English and fine arts and director of theater at Memphis University School in Memphis, TN. Mr Greer teaches a Detective Fiction course to high-school seniors in order to strengthen their cognitive abilities and foster critical thinking and writing skills.

Mr. Greer teaches that the world still needs Sherlock Holmes, a detective who seeks justice for the victim but also, and more importantly, for society. Classroom discussions range from Aristotle’s “Metaphysics” and “the insatiable human desire to know,” to recurring themes in detective fiction such as justice, revenge, obsession, the nature of truth, the rule of law and the burden of genius. students and Holmes with bloodhounds

It’s not all theory, either: Mr. Greer’s students record their findings in field notebooks as they analyze handwriting and forgery, bite marks, gunshot residue, and even conduct manhunts using a bloodhound on campus. These activities allow them to follow in the footsteps of Doyle’s iconic character in stories such as “The Reigate Squires” and “The Sign of Four.” (Sidney Paget drawing at right from "The Missing Three-Quarter")

Students call Greer’s Detective Fiction course one of the best classes they have ever taken and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle won the most "favorite author" votes. Typical comments: "This was my favorite class in my six years at MUS,” “Thank you so much for an unforgettable semester,” “The labs were awesome,” “Sherlock Holmes 4ever!”

The Beacon Award consists of a certificate and, since 2011, a check for $221. The winner is announced in New York at the Annual Meeting of the Beacon Society during the Sherlock Holmes Birthday Weekend, held each January.

Jan Stauber Grant Winners for 2013

In 2013, the Jan Stauber Grant provided up to $350 in assistance for developing a teaching project that will introduce more young people to Sherlock Holmes. This year we again welcomed candidates from Canada as well as the USA. Here are the winners for 2013:

  • Johanna Archer, Upper Greenwood Lake Elementary School, Hewitt, New Jersey. “Whodunit?: Mysteries in the Library” for grades kindergarten through 6th
  • Kirsten Bester, Guelph Public Library, Guelph, Ontario, Canada. “Sherlock Holmes Video Adventure Project—Unlocking Guelph Public Library’s Sherlock Holmes Collection” for grades 7 through 12
  • Brittany Maguet, Ste. Rose Regional Library, Ste. Rose du Lac, Manitoba, Canada. “Baker Street Detective Club” for ages 8-12
  • Tracey Pankratz, Jake Epp Library, Steinbach, Manitoba, Canada. “The Mystery of Sherlock Holmes” for ages 5-9 and 10-14
  • Christopher Pearce, Middletown High School, Middletown, Ohio. “A Study in Comic: Sherlock Holmes’ Graphic Novel Anthology” for grade 9
  • Elizabeth Simmons and Sally Gummere, Granville High School, Granville, Ohio. “What’s the Mystery?” for grade 12
  • Marie Wright, The River School, Washington, DC. “Sleuthing Through Books: A Scientific Connection” for grade 3
  • We invite US and Canadian teachers, librarians, Sherlockian literary societies, and others to apply for the Beacon Society's major funding project. Applications and reports from previous winners are available on the Jan Stauber Grant page. The application deadline is typically May 1 and the grant period runs from 1 July to 30 June.

    Our Mission

    We help teachers and librarians use the literature of Sherlock Holmes to engage kids in the pleasures of reading. We're a not-for-profit scion of the Baker Street Irregulars, providing resources that bring the magic of Sherlock Holmes to life in the classroom.

    Each year, our Jan Stauber Grants help local teachers and librarians develop Sherlock Holmes teaching units in their schools. We also give Beacon Awards to people or groups who have made an outstanding contribution toward the Beacon Society’s mission.

    We provided over $2000 for grants and awards last year, but we'd love to support more programs. If you'd like to help, please make a tax-deductible donation here on our website. We accept PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express. Security is guaranteed by PayPal, the company that handles our online account.

    What's New

    Judith Freeman has written a helpful Manual for Starting a Sherlockian Group.

    Baker Street Irregular Sally Sugarman has compiled a READING LIST for young people who may not be quite ready for Arthur Conan Doyle or may want to explore contemporary mysteries with youthful detectives. Professor Sugarman retired from Bennington College where she taught Childhood Studies for thirty-five years. She is currently teaching Literature for Children and Popular Culture in America for Johnson State College and Community College of Vermont. We are most grateful that her love of teaching and Sherlock Holmes have come together for the Beacon Society.

    Bill Dorn won the 2012 Beacon Award, and now his 2-volume set of Study Guides to Sherlock Holmes has been converted to e-books by the publisher, BSDP! Copies are now available free of charge to members of the Beacon Society. Contact the Beacon Head Light, Susan Diamond, who will either confirm your membership or sign you up (membership is free). Once you're officially on board, Susan will get you in touch with the publisher, George Vanderburgh of BSDB, who will email you the (electronic) Study Guides. Thanks, George!

    A Case Study of The Red-Headed League has been developed by Professor Marino Alvarez. This ambitious project includes PDF files for Teacher and Student Guides with concept maps, visual literacy guides and thematic organizers. There's an illustrated copy of the story with questions for each section, too. Thank you, Professor Alvarez!

    We are excited about meeting Maria Konnikova, a Scientific American Guest Blogger whose series "Lessons from Sherlock Holmes" appeared from August to November 2011. She is from New York City and is currently a doctoral candidate in psychology at Columbia University. Her first book, inspired by her blog posts, has just been published by Viking/Penguin.

    The Beacon Society is now on Facebook! We have joined several other Sherlockian groups on Facebook. Drop by, "friend" us, and tell us what you'd like to see.

    In the Spotlight

    Sherlockians enjoy developing teaching materials and sharing them with others. Look through contributions from Beacon Society members and supporters.

    Past winners of the Jan Stauber Grants enjoy sharing their experiences. Guidelines and application forms are available on the Jan Stauber Grant page.

    Contemporary BBC/PBS Sherlock Holmes series

    Sherlock, a 3-episode series from the BBC, first aired in the US in October 2010 on PBS "Masterpiece Mystery." We were very pleased to find that PBS mentioned the Beacon Society in its Book and Film Club: Sherlock list of "Resources" for the first show, A Study in Pink. More episodes of Sherlock were shown on PBS in May 2012 and the next series shows in January 2014 in the US.

    Contact the Beacon Webmaster: mmckayATL@comcast.net

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