icon for Home page
icon for Kid's Home page
icon for Digital Collection
icon for Activities
icon for Turns Exhibit
icon for In the Classroom
icon for Chronologies
icon for My Collection

In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
Lessons: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15

Lesson 3: Using Primary Documents: "Agreeable to His Genius"

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

How does one use primary documents to reinvent a person or place?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas

Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

top of page

Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

This lesson uses primary sources and documents to "reinvent" a person in his historical context. John Partridge Bull was a member of the middling sort who lived in Deerfield (1731-1813). His documents will be used to illustrate how one can piece together a life story.

Teacher Background Essay: Agreeable to His Genius

top of page

Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • World events brought important changes that impacted Deerfield.
  • Deerfield became prosperous because of the river trade and improved agricultural practices. This prosperity led to increased refinement.
  • Transportation and communication improved. The central government in Boston expanded the "world view" of Deerfield, heightening their interest in consumer goods.
  • Deerfield was a complex community with members taking on a variety of roles and jobs, i.e. servant, craftsman, housewife, clergy, and apprentice.
  • Deerfield families had strong kinship ties with families along the Connecticut River.

Students will be able to:

  • Use information gained from this and other periods to develop on a continuum showing the growth of the Deerfield community.

top of page

In Preparation for Teaching

1. Read Teacher Background Essay: Agreeable to His Genius


top of page


Primary and Secondary Sources:

  1. John Partridge Bull activity.
  2. Handout: "Agreeable to His Genius: John Partridge Bull" (1731-1813)

top of page

Activities Materials in Context


  • Discuss with students the importance of using primary sources to reconstruct the past, illustrating the varied formats.
  • Instruct students to complete the John Partridge Bull activity on the American Centuries website.


Based on the reading and website investigation, indicate what characteristics are typical and atypical about John Partridge Bull on the handout provided.


John Partridge Bull activity

top of page


button for Side by Side Viewingbutton for Glossarybutton for Printing Helpbutton for How to Read Old Documents



Home | Online Collection | Things To Do | Turns Exhibit | Classroom | Chronologies | My Collection
About This Site | Site Index | Site Search | Feedback