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

The Second Turn, 1780-1820
Lesson 11: Printed Materials (Ads and Broadsides) 1780-1820

Unit Central Questions: In This Lesson:

What do primary and secondary sources teach us about the characteristics of "everyday life" of individuals living in Deerfield at the four turns of the centuries?

What do these characteristics reveal about changes in the town since its beginning as an English settlement?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Activity 2
Activity 3
Activity 4

Lesson Length

Activity 1 - one 45 minute session plus homework time.

Activity 2 - 45 minutes, homework time, and 30-minute follow-up time.

Activity 3 - variable (depending on how many newspaper excerpts teacher wishes to use).

Activity 4 - one 45 minute session plus homework time.

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

The period of 1780-1820, when the nation moved from revolution to a federal government, was a time of significant cultural change. More people had access to education and books and literacy increased. Newspapers became more prevalent as did advertising for the growing number of products available for purchase. An increased number of occupations other than farming were available, particularly to men, and people had more leisure time. The industrial revolution was underway.

For more information, read:
Teacher Background Essay: Printed Materials

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

1. That newspapers and broadsides, which covered news topics, politics, and included advertising, were readily available and inexpensive.
2. That the broadsides and newspaper advertising of the time provide evidence that 1780-1820 was a time of cultural change.
3. Some of the ways Deerfield, Massachusetts changed from 1780-1820.

Students will be able to:

1. Read and analyze primary source documents such as ads and broadsides.
2. Extrapolate information about the period from their analysis of the primary source materials.

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In Preparation for Teaching

1. Make copies of broadsides and newspaper excerpts.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

1. "Licensed Houses" excerpts from The Perpetual Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Vol. I
2. "Important" broadside - Information about correspondence between England and the United States about war (1808).
3. "Commonwealth of Massachusetts" - Communication about "Deaf and Dumb" citizens (1817).
4. Broadside - Farm for Sale (1819).
5. Packet of excerpts from Greenfield, Massachusetts newspapers (from 1792 to 1820):


1. Student notebooks.
2. Chart paper.
3. Felt tip markers.

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1
A. Broadsides

1. Distribute copies of "Licensed Houses" for students to read. Clarify vocabulary as necessary.
2. Explain that broadsides were signs or posters, printed on one side only, used for disseminating public information, advertising, meeting notices, etc. They were posted on buildings or other structures or distributed. They were a means for people to find out information.
3. Ask students:

  • Who are these laws for?
  • Why were they created?
  • What do the laws tell you about society at the time that the laws were written?

4. Pass out "Information" broadside. Instruct students to work in pairs to answer the following questions in their notebooks:

  • What information does this broadside give?
  • Why were these letters printed and posted as a broadside?
  • Who was meant to read the broadside?
  • What does the information on the broadside tell you about society in 1808?

5. Have students share findings with the class, and record these on chart paper.
6. Pass out communication about "Deaf and Dumb" citizens. Instruct students to answer the following questions in their notebooks and then discuss their findings in a class discussion.

  • Who was the intended audience for this broadside?
  • Why was it created?
  • What might the General Court do with the information requested on the broadside?
  • What does the information on the broadside tell you about society in 1817?


Homework Assignment:

1. Pass out copies of "Farm for Sale - 1819" broadside.
2. Instruct students to answer the questions listed below:

  • Who is "the subscriber"?
  • List what the seller thinks are the two most important features of his farm.
  • Compare this broadside to a modern real estate listing from a newspaper. What is different?
  • What does this tell you about what people shopping for real estate valued in 1819 compared to modern times?

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"Licensed Houses" excerpts from The Perpetual Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Vol. I

Vocabulary For "Licensed Houses"


"Important" broadside - Information about correspondence between England and the United States about war (1808)


"Commonwealth of Massachusetts" - Communication about "Deaf and Dumb" citizens (1817)






Broadside - Farm for Sale (1819)

Activity 2
B. Advertisements

1. Pass out copies of excerpt from the Feb. 15, 1792 Impartial Intelligencer, p. 3.
2. Tell students that ads are usually about buying and selling, but sometimes they are about other things. Make two columns on chart paper with these headings: "For Sale" and "Other".
3. Instruct students to find the ad with gunpowder in it.
4. Ask them to find what is for sale in this ad and write it in the "For Sale" column of the chart paper.
5. Ask students what this ad tells us about people living at this turn of the century. Discuss.
6. Using the discussion in #5 as a starting point, turn the list (created in #4) into sentences on another piece of chart paper. These sentences should state what might be extrapolated about people at the time based on what the ad says. Help students to distinguish between making defensible assumptions and making assumptions that cannot be supported by what is known from the ad. (For instance, it can be said that in Deerfield, Massachusetts E. Williams had gunpowder and crockery for sale, or that people in Deerfield had access to European and Indian goods at this time, but one cannot assume that everyone in Deerfield, Massachusetts owned guns.)
7. Have students study the ads on the page to find other things they can learn about people in this area in 1792, and add them to the columns page and the sentences page.
8. Distribute the other ads from 1792 to pairs of students and instruct them to follow the procedure above, using their notebooks to make their lists and write sentences.

Homework Assignment for Activity 2:

1. Give students one of the three 1799 excerpts to use for homework.
2. Using the procedure in Activity 2, have them make lists and write sentences about "what we can learn from newspaper ads about the people who lived in the area in 1799", using that quote as a heading.

Follow-up to Activity 2:

1. Have students who worked on the same excerpt meet and record their sentences (not the lists) on chart paper.
2. Instruct students to read the charts silently, making notes of any statements that might not be historically accurate, or that appear to be unsupported assumptions or conjecture.
3. Have a discussion of the sentences listed on the charts, and make any changes that would correct assumptions. Put a good sample of drawings on the class time line at 1780-1820.

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Packet of excerpts from Greenfield, Massachusetts newspapers (from 1792):



Activity 3
C. Newspaper excerpts

1. Use the procedure in the homework assignment for Activity 2 to work with newspaper excerpts from 1800-1810, as many as desired.
2. Work with the excerpts from 1820 together as a class or as homework assignments.
3. List the 1820 sentences on chart paper and instruct students to copy into their notebooks those that they haven't worked with.














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Packet of excerpts from Greenfield, Massachusetts newspapers (from 1799 to 1820):


Activity 4
D. Hold Court

Divide students into an even number of "defense" teams (depending upon class size). Instruct every team to write 3 sentences, each showing one way that Deerfield changed. Every team must have at least 2 pieces of evidence (from Activities 1-3 above) to support each sentence.

Hold "court." Each team must present their statements and defend them against any comments or questions from the teacher and the rest of the class. The teacher can serve as judge to step in only when a question or discrepancy goes unchallenged by other students. Those sentences "accepted" by the court can be recorded on a chart page.

Homework for Activity 4:
Using the information in your notebooks, write a three-paragraph paper with the title, "How Deerfield Changed during the Years 1790-1820, Using Ads as Evidence." The following topics might be used as focus: goods for sale, amusement opportunities, consumerism, education, and employment.










Student notebooks




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Use the homework assignments from activities 1, 2, and 4 to assess the degree to which individual students have achieved the intended learning outcomes.



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