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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
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Lesson 5: The Middling Class in Deerfield:
Two People on Albany Road: A Case study

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

What can the study of individuals tell us about the past of a community?

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

As the villages grew in population and sophistication, craftsmen, apprentices, and professionals all became important members of the expanding Deerfield community.

Teacher Background Essay: The Middling Sort

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • Deerfield was a complex community with members taking on a variety of roles and jobs, i.e. servant, craftsman, housewife, clergy, apprentice, and yeoman.
  • Deerfield became prosperous because of the river trade and improved agricultural practices. This prosperity led to increased desire for material goods and refinement.

Students will be able to:

  • Articulate the varied roles typical for support of a small New England town.
  • 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: The Middling Sort

Further Background Reading:
Rorabaugh, W.J. The Craft Apprentice: From Franklin to the Machine Age. New York: Oxford UP., 1986.

"Town Lot V". McGowan, Susan and Miller, Amelia. Family and Landscape:Deerfield Homelots from 1671. Deerfield, MA: Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, 1996.

Wood, Joseph. The New England Village. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1997.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

(all on American Centuries Website)
  1. Justin Hitchcock's Indenture
  2. Justin Hitchcock's letter to David Hoyt
  3. Sarah Greene's Indenture
  4. Elizabeth Amsden's Inventory, Will, Sale of Goods
  5. Justin Hitchcock’s "A Sort of an Autobiography"

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Activities Materials in Context
  • Instruct students to transcribe the will, sale of goods, and inventory of Elizabeth Amsden (1724-1768), who lived on Town Lot # V on Deerfield's Albany Rd. Discuss what you determined to be her story from reading these. Do not be afraid to use conjecture here and infer from what facts are evident.
  • Involve students in the discussion of Justin Hitchcock (1752-1822), who moved to Deerfield in 1774 and built his home on Town Lot #V in 1779. Read the article, "A Sort of an Autobiography". Ask students to transcribe Hitchcock's indenture papers and read his letter to David Hoyt.
  • Ask students to write descriptions of these two individuals (both of whom lived on Town Lot #V, Albany Road at different times) using facts from the documents. They should allude to the ways in which these people were typical and atypical.
  • Conclude by reading together the indenture statement of Sarah Greene. How does it compare with that of Justin Hitchcock? Was there a difference because of gender?

Assignment: In preparation for the discussion of the Revolutionary War in Western Massachusetts, read:

Smith, Barbara Clark. "The War at Home: Samuel Colton, Merchant of Longmeadow, Massachusetts." After the Revolution: The Smithsonian History of Everyday Life in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Smithsonian, 1985.



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Class participation and the descriptive writing about Amsden and Hitchcock.

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