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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
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Lesson 11: Refinement in Deerfield as Exemplified in the Visual Image of the Town

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

How do changes in an economy impact the visual image of a town?
What areas in a landscape indicate refinement?
How does a community reveal itself to outsiders?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas

Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

Refinement within a community can be revealed through a walk down a New England street. Public and private buildings and public spaces tell much about the values held by a community.

Teacher Background Essay: Neo-Classicism and Refinement

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • Deerfield became prosperous because of the river trade and improved agricultural practices. This prosperity led to increased refinement.

Students will be able to:

  • Make the connections between the changing ideals of "decencies" of life, new modes of behavior, and consumption, which together resulted in what is known as the middle class.
  • Use information gained from this and other periods to develop a continuum showing the growth of the Deerfield community.

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In Preparation for Teaching

1. Read Teacher Background Essay: Neo-Classicism and Refinement

Further Background Reading:
Hutchins, Catherine, ed. Everyday Life in the Early Republic. Winterthur, Delaware: Henry Francis Dupont Winterthur Museum, 1994.

Wood, Joseph. The New England Village. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

Unless specified, all can be found on the American Centuries website.

  1. Federal Period Architecture from "The Land; 1780 - 1820" from the Turns of the Centuries Exhibit Section on this web site.
  2. Plan of Deerfield from the Turns of the Centuries Exhibit, The Land: 1780-1820
  3. Paper for creating a map of the main street in the students' hometown.
  4. Refer to the student essay from lesson 10 "Lifeways, 1770 - 1850" as students look at the houses.

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Activity Materials in Context
  1. Invite students to create an image of The Street in Deerfield, locating their families' homes. Identify what characteristics demonstrate "refinement."
  2. Then invite each student to draw a picture of the main street in their respective town, indicating what would be classified as "refinement" characteristics.
    • What items indicate a sense of the classical world?
    • What areas indicate a strong economy?
    • What areas indicate a waning economy?

Assignment: Based on the character you are developing within your Deerfield family, write a letter to a cousin in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Describe a change that has taken place in your post-Revolutionary town, which caused the town to look and you to feel that you are living in a refined community. Be convincing so that your cousin will want to visit.



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The letter written to a cousin.

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