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U.S. Era 2

Colonization and Settlement (1585-1763)

Primary Sources

  • Library of Congress Primary Source Sets: sets of selected primary sources on specific topics, available as easy-to-print PDFs, as well as tools to guide student analysis and background material about each topic. Recommended for grades 7-12.
    • Jamestown
    • Thanksgiving
  • Jamestown Rediscovery: the ongoing archaeological excavation of Jamestown colony.
  • William Penn: good introduction to the founder of Pennsylvania.
  • Bethlehem Digital History Project: compilation of digital resources from the libraries around this Moravian community in Pennsylvania.
  • Martha Ballard’s Diary: Martha Ballard’s diary, a film about her, and other primary sources about 18th-century New England.
  • Excerpts from Slave Narratives: digital versions of slave narratives, edited by the historian Steven Mintz.
  • Religion in Early America: objects from the Library of Congress, challenging the belief that religion was in decline in the colonies before the Great Awakening of the 1740s.
  • Colonial Currency: primary and secondary sources on 18th-century currency.
  • Virginia Runaways: digital database of 18th-century advertisements in Virginia newspapers  about runaway slaves.

Lesson Plans

  • EDSITEment: the humanities website of the National Endowment for the Humanities in partnership with the National Trust for the Humanities, and the Verizon foundation.
    • Mapping Colonial New England: Looking at the Landscape:  students learn to interpret the built environment through text and image. They also study maps as a key way of shaping territory and transmitting cultural knowledge. This lesson explores the landscape of New England as a way of understanding the contrasting ways that the Europeans and Indians understood the land and how to use it. The lesson focuses on William Wood's 1634 and William Hubbard's 1677 maps to trace how the Puritans took possession of the region, built towns, and established families on the land. (Grades 9-12)
    • William Penn’s Peaceable Kingdom: examines one of these promotional tracts, “Letter to the Free Society of Traders.” Students understand the ethnic diversity of Pennsylvania along with the “pull” factors of migration in the seventeenth century English colonies. (Grades 9-12)
    • Religion in 18th Century America: through the use of primary documents, introduce students to the First Great Awakening, as well as to the ways in which religious-based arguments were used both in support of and against the American Revolution. (Grades 9-12)