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In the Classroom > Unit Overview
Lessons: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 |

Research & Investigation Project (RIP): A Grave Undertaking
Lesson 4: Digging into the Past

Unit Central Questions: In This Lesson:

How can we use primary source materials to investigate the lives of some people in Deerfield, Massachusetts in the period 1780-1880?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas
Activity 1
Activity 2
Lesson Length

Social Studies: 4-5 days research & analysis and 3-4 days final projects

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher Background

Through careful and thorough research of primary and secondary sources, we can get a sense of the lives of our research subjects - what they did, how they lived, their standing in the community, and, to some extent, what they cared about.

Teacher Note: With this lesson, student teams begin their research into the lives of individuals who lived in Deerfield between 1780-1880. The teams are provided time to work on their research, design and create final projects, and prepare their presentations in class, once work on earlier activities is completed. However, some time outside of school may be needed to complete the projects. Students begin working on their research using the Digital Collections section on the Memorial Hall Museum Online website. The remainder of week two is devoted to research and analysis of their material and project development as needed. Project presentations happen in week three.

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand that:

  • the study of history involves the analysis and interpretation of period sources, and that these materials not only give us information, but also provide a flavor of earlier times.
  • we can never know all of the details of life experience and attitudes in the past, but through research and careful interpretation we can get a better idea of what life was like in earlier times.

Students will be able to:

  • read and understand a variety of primary and secondary sources, extract factual information and infer from them understandings about their research subject's social status and family.
  • develop reasonable and defensible hypotheses about some aspects of his/her social life.

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In Preparation for Teaching

1. Either print documents for each research subject from PVMA website or request students to research the website themselves.

2. Assemble a document packet for each research team including all documents related to their individual research subject and a list of the source materials in the packets. Keep copies of the packet content lists for yourself.

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Materials List::

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Activities Materials in Context

Activity 1

A. Distribute the project rubric checklist, and go over the expectations for the projects.
B. Have the students search for their historic person in the Digital Collection section of the Memorial Hall Museum Online website. Note that some resources will be secondary resources like George Sheldon's History of Deerfield, while others will be actual primary source documents owned by the individual under study.
C. Review Instructions for Using the Document Packet with students.
D. Ask students to use information about subjects' houses and house information to learn more about their research subject.
E. Research should be completed by the end of day 8 of the unit (or later, at the discretion of the teacher). At that time, work must begin on final projects.
F. Distribute list of "Possible Student Projects" and "Project Design Form" to each team at the appropriate time. Review these with students as necessary, and guide them in developing their project concepts. All project ideas must be approved by a teacher prior to students proceeding with work on their projects.

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Project Rubric




Instructions for Using the Document Packet

Research subjects' houses & house information

Possible Student Projects

Project Design Form

Activity 2
Creating a Final Project

A. Remind students that they must complete their research and answer the questions on the "Reading and Analyzing Background Information Using Primary and Secondary Sources" worksheet by the end of day 8 of the unit. Then they must choose two projects from the list of "Possible Student Projects," complete a "Project Design Form," and have the form reviewed and signed by a teacher. At least one of the projects must be a writing project that summarizes the research findings in some way.
B. Students should begin work on their projects. Explain that they will also be required to make a presentation to their peers about their projects and research subjects. Each team will have ten to fifteen minutes to present. All team members should participate in the presentations.

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Reading and Analyzing Background Information Using Primary and Secondary Sources


Use the Project Rubric to evaluate the projects.

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