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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
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Lesson 2: The Massachusetts Frontier: Turner

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

What forces impact a New Settler?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson

Turner, at the turn of the 20th century, sets out his theory of the impact of the settlement of the new frontier lands on those who settled. It was during the period of his writing that the frontier was expanding further westward still.

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • the political, social, religious, and economic world and national context in which the settlement of Deerfield occurred.
  • that there were increasingly in this period competing political agendas, and competition for land, power, and wealth in Deerfield.

Students will be able to:

  • identify and articulate differing points of view.
  • use graphic organization skills to represent conceptual understandings of land use and acquisition.

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In Preparation for Teaching

Background Reading:

Cronon, William. Changes in the Land. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983.

Foster, Stephen. The Long Argument: English Puritanism and the Shaping of New England Culture, 1570 - 1700. Chapel Hill: Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, VA, by the University of North Carolina Press, c1991.

Kupperman, Karen. Settling with the Indians. Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman, 1980.

Melvoin, Richard. New England Outpost. New York: Norton, 1989.

Salisbury, Neal. Manitou and Providence. New York: Oxford, 1982.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

  1. Turner, Fredrick Jackson. "The First Official Frontier of Massachusetts Bay". from The Colonial Society of Massachusetts. 4 April 1914.
  2. Allen, David Grayson. Vacuum Domicilium: The Social and Cultural Landscape of Seventeenth Century New England. New England Begins. pp. 1-9.
  3. Information from this website: Turns of the Centuries Exhibit: Native Peoples - 1680-1720
  4. Map of the Native Peoples in the Connecticut River Valley


  1. Atlases
  2. Overhead projector
  3. Newsprint
  4. Acetate

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1

1. Determine that each student has a copy on the Turner article.

2. Introduce the students to the Memorial Hall website. Go to the Exhibit Section and review the Native Peoples 1680-1720. Locate the Map of the Native Peoples in the Connecticut River Valley.

3. Introduce students to mapping, a graphic organizer.

For the mapping activity:
Mapping is a method of graphic organizing which provides students with a visual method of making connections to ideas found in the Allen article. For this activity, begin by placing the words "empty land" in a circle in the center of a large sheet of newsprint. As the reading is being completed, link each idea with the central item or an item, which it supports. For example two connecting ideas to the empty land will be represented by two circles which contain English and Native Peoples connected to the main topic "empty land." Following those subtopics, additional connected topics can be made as "off shoots" of those main topics until the entire article is mapped, representing the main ideas found in this sophisticated article. A student should be able to recall the thrust of the article by looking at the completed activity.

4. Divide the students into two groups. One group will map the Native Peoples of the Connecticut Valley; the other to map the Turner article.

5. Share the mapping of the Turner article, then the mapping of the content of the Native Peoples website.

6. As a class discuss that fact that Turner states that the native peoples were a very real influence on the mind and morals as well as the institutions of colonial New England. Normal and exceptional relations occurred with the puritan types of English colonist. What events would constitute normal relations between these two groups? What events would describe exceptional relations? How did these interactions affect the mind, spirit, and morals of the colonial institutions? Of the native peoples? Do you think that this pattern of settlement repeated itself?

7. Homework assignment: Read the article by David Grayson Allen Vacuum Domicilium: The Social and Cultural Landscape of Seventeenth Century New England




"The First Official Frontier of Massachusetts Bay" by Frederick Jackson Turner

Turns of the Centuries Exhibit: Native Peoples - 1680-1720

Map of the Native Peoples in the Connecticut River Valley














Vacuum Domicilium: The Social and Cultural Landscape of Seventeenth Century New England. by David Grayson Allen

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Use the student's homework assignment from Lesson 1 of the prototype of the development of a frontier village and class participation as the means to assess the student's understanding.

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