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The automobile is a thread that runs through the last century and more of Michigan’s history—and through the Michigan Historical Museum’s twentieth century galleries as well! Even young students can discuss similarities and differences among cars and imagine what it might have been like to ride in the various models.
Michigan’s pioneers—the first people of European decent to settle in various places throughout our state—wrote many accounts of their experiences. A woman who came to Yankee Springs in Southwestern Michigan when she was four years old created one of my favorite accounts. Mary Lewis Hoyt was over seventy when she wrote her story, but she painted wonderful word pictures that answer questions historians ask—
Where did people live?
How did they travel?
What did they eat?
What did they do for fun?
After reading The Mitten’s issue on Henry Ford’s Model T, students should be able to address these kinds of questions. This lesson is designed to help students understand the economic culture surrounding Michigan’s labor force, and the differences between the labor force of Henry Ford’s time and the labor force of current times by putting students in the position of a laborer and asking them to assess their own financial situation. You Will Need: A copy of the February 2004 issue of The Mitten, found here. A copy of the Model T worksheet: ModelTDiagram Students will need simple calculators, pencils, and paper to figure out wages and costs. Questions to Consider during this lesson: Ask students these questions at the beginning of the lesson, and see what they think, whether they have a way to formulate an educated answer or not. Tell them to think about these things throughout the discussion and activities. After the lesson, return to these questions and see what they think again; their opinions may change. Why was the Model T such a popular car? Who do you think would have bought a Model T, and why? What made the Model T so important to both the United States and foreign culture? How Affordable Was a Model T? If a Ford assembly line worker made $5 a day and worked 250 days per year, how much would he or she earn in a year? ($5 x 250 = $1250.) What percentage of his or her annual income would the purchase of a $290 Model T represent? ($290 \ 1250 = 23%.) How does that percentage compare to costs today? How would you go about figuring this out? (Students can choose a car from the current ads they collected to price a new vehicle and use either minimum wage ($7.25 an hour in 2009), or an assembly line workers’ average hourly wages ($14.51 an hour for Floor Assembly III position, 2009) to compare the costs of purchasing a new car today.) Workin’ the Assembly Line Let students experience what it is like to work on an assembly line by setting up a series of simple, repetitive, timed tasks. Use the image of the Model T provided in this lesson. Have each student find a specific part in the image such as the steering wheel, left front tire, back seat, assign each student a part to be colored with a different color crayon. When the line boss says go, each student colors the shape they are responsible for. When the timer bell goes off, the student must pass the project to the next person on the line whether they’ve finished or not once students can accomplish the tasks assigned, speed up the line. Some students may have bigger or more complicated tasks to accomplish than others and may not be able to finish the task in the assigned time. This will provide some material for later discussions such as: What problems did the class encounter? How did working on the line make students feel? Did the quality of workmanship change when the line was speeded up? How did students feel about working hard and not having ownership of the finished product? How did the time involved in producing the item by the assembly line technique compare to the time it would take one individual to complete the task? Bringing Home the Bacon After having completed both of the above activities, bring the class back together in a discussion setting. Initiate some questions wages and costs, payments of insurance, etc. Ask how the students would feel about trying to buy the product they’d just made on an assembly line salary in 2011, and in 1908 or 1927. Give the students the guideline of spending a flat %20 of their income on transportation. Set a fixed cost for factors like insurance and gas and ask the students to compute different figures relating to their purchase. How do they differ from then to now? This Lesson Involves Michigan Education Standards as Follows: 3-G4.0.1 –Describe major kinds of economic activity in Michigan today, such as automobile manufacturing and explain the factors influencing the location of these economic activities. 3-E1.0.4 –Describe how entrepreneurs combine natural, human, and capital resources to produce goods and services in Michigan. 4-E1.0.1 –Identify questions economists ask in examining the United States (e.g. What is produced? How is it produced? How much is produced? Who gets what is produced? What role does the government play in the economy?). N.MR. 04.14 –Solve contextual problems involving whole number multiplication and division. 3-E1.0.1 –Explain how scarcity, opportunity costs, and choices affect what is produced and consumed in Michigan 4-E1.0.5 –Explain how specialization and division of labor increase productivity (e.g., assembly line). Further Explorations: For additional ideas and lesson plans related to the Model T, go to: Henry Ford’s The Model T Road Trip: Lesson Plans, at: http://www.hfmgv.org/education/smartfun/class/modelt/main.html
Michigan settlers may not have had to travel as far as people headed for the West Cost, but that doesn’t mean that they didn’t face hardships on the journey to their new lives. Questions to answer about the decision to become a pioneer and travel the trail: Why did people come? What did they bring? How far did they travel in a day? How many miles was the trip? How much did it cost? Why did it end? What did they do when they got here? Where did they sleep? Did the kids go to school? What did kids do? How did they cross rivers? What kind of animals would you see? How did they cook? Was it difficult? What did they do when they got to Oregon? Who came to Oregon? Who led the group? How did they know the way? What if they broke down? Were there stores to buy things? Could you send letters home? How do we know any of this stuff? Can you still walk on the trail today? What is a “pioneer”? Did they ride in the wagon? What pulled the wagon? –Make a cup and ball: a traditional toy for kids on the trail, if there was time for play
Let’s take a trip, back through time, to before any of us were born, before World War I and II, before the American Civil War and before Michigan even was called Michigan. What is the story of Michigan’s birth as a land and a people? Most of Michigan’s story is unwritten. It is almost entirely an American Indian story. Almost everything we know about the thousands of years before English-speaking settlers we have learned through Native American tradition and clues discovered by archaeologists. Thousands of years ago, the land we know as Michigan was shaped by glaciers. Long before there were people living in Michigan, ice more than a mile thick moved slowly back and forth across the state. The ice acted like a huge bulldozer, scraping and gouging the land surface. As the ice melted, the water formed lakes and rivers. The largest of these lakes are the Great Lakes, which surround most of Michigan. Paleo-Indian peoples probably came into North America from Asia by crossing the Bering Straits from Asia to Alaska. Although few in number, Paleo-Indians traveled widely. They followed the herd animals that they depended upon for food and for skins and hides to make clothing. They first arrived in Michigan about 12,000 years ago. Archaeologists call these people “Paleo-Indians,” which means “ancient Indians.” Paleo-Indians in Michigan hunted big game animals like caribou. They may have hunted mammoths and mastodons, too. They were able to kill these large animals using spears. They made distinctive, beautifully-shaped stone points from stone to tip their spears. They were skilled at making stone tools. They made stone knives for butchering, scrapers for preparing hides and wedges for splitting bone and wood. A certain type of stone called chert, used in making tools, was obtained from outcrops throughout the Great Lakes region, either by trading or by visiting the quarries. They made bone and antler tools, such as needles and awls. They used these to make clothing from the skins of the animals.They also gathered many different kinds of plants they found growing wild. They ate blueberries, cranberries, cattails and the inner bark of certain trees. They brewed vitamin-rich teas from leaves of junipers, hemlock trees and other plants. They used their skills at hunting animals and gathering food to feed and clothe their families. The Early Archaic period in Michigan dates to between 8,000 and 6,000 B.C. During this period, water levels of the Great Lakes were much lower then than they are today. Many of the sites where Early Archaic peoples lived are now under water. This has made it more difficult for archaeologists to study the Early Archaic period. We do know, however, that the climate was changing. It was probably warmer during the Early Archaic than it is today. As the climate warmed, some kinds of plants and animals disappeared, and new kinds took their place. In some areas, pine and spruce trees were replaced with trees like oak and maple. Mammoths and mastodons disappeared, but deer became common. Early Archaic peoples learned how to use new plants for food and for making tools, weapons and utensils. They also learned new ways to hunt the different game animals in the forests. With the changing environment, Middle Archaic peoples of the period between 6,000 and 3,000 B.C. looked for new ways to make use of the resources in their environment. They created new tools—new technology—that helped them to gather food and make things they needed for everyday living. During Middle Archaic times, people began to make new types of tools for working wood. They ground and polished hard stones like granite to make chisels and gouges. With these tools—such as the adze in the photo—they probably made useful objects such as wooden bowls and dugout canoes. Background Notes The First People entered the area we call Michigan over 10,000 years ago. They hunted and fished for thousands of years. Despite the hunting and the fishing, the environment showed little impact from their lives here. When the Europeans arrived around 1620, Woodland peoples of the Algonquian language groups lived on this land that would become Michigan. This chart lists the tribes and their approximate Michigan locations. Menominee South central Upper Peninsula (near present Menominee River and Green Bay) Chippewa (Ojibwa) Eastern Upper Peninsula Ottawa Eastern Upper Peninsula, Canada Potawatomi Western lower Michigan Mascowten Western and central southern lower Michigan Sauk Eastern central lower Michigan, near Saginaw Bay Fox Eastern lower Michigan, near Lake Huron Kickapoo Southeastern corner of lower Michigan Miami Southwestern corner of lower Michigan Objectives Students will identify Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas and the directions-north, south, east, and west-on an outline map of Michigan. Students will be able to correctly identify the major Native American tribes and their locations upon the arrival of Europeans in the area that is now the state of Michigan. Materials Needed Blank outline map of Michigan [PDF] Pencils, pens or markers Teacher: completed map for reference Directions This activity assumes knowledge of directional concepts (north, south, east, west) and the concepts of upper and lower (peninsula). Review these using a Michigan map before beginning the activity. (Note that there are no definite areas marked with lines. Tribes moved seasonally and-due to conflicts and interactions with the French, British and Americans-changed locations into the 19th century.) Provide each student with an outline map of Michigan. Write the names of the major Indian tribes on the board. Using a Michigan wall map discuss the tribes and point out the areas in which they lived. Have students write the names of the tribes on their own maps during the discussion. (For greater challenge, distribute the blank maps and assign the activity to be completed from memory after the class discussion.) Questions for Further Research Why did some Indian tribes move from one section of Michigan to another? Was each tribe aware of neighboring tribes? How did they get to know each other? At the Museum Look at the “Tribal Locations circa 1620” map on the reader rail in front of the Woodland scene. Does it resemble the map you made in your class? Why might maps of tribal locations look slightly different in different books or displays? See the map on the wall of the fort that shows the lands ceded by the Native Americans to others in treaties. Vocabulary Peninsula: A section of land surrounded by water on all sides but one. Tribe: A group of people made up of many families. Michigan Social Studies Curriculum Content Standards This lesson presents an opportunity to address, in part, these standards: SOC.II.1 All students will describe, compare, and explain the locations and characteristics of places, cultures, and settlements. SOC.II.2. All students will describe, compare, and explain the locations and characteristics of ecosystems, resources, human adaptation, environmental impact, and the interrelationships among them. SOC.II.4 All students will describe and compare characteristics of ecosystems, states, regions, countries, major world regions, and patterns and explain the processes that created them. References Cleland, Charles E. Rites of Conquest: The History and Culture of Michigan’s Native Americans. Ann Arbor, MI: The University of Michigan Press, 1992. Clifton, James A., George L. Cornell, and James M. McClurken. People of the Three Fires. Grand Rapids, MI: Grand Rapids Inter-Tribal Council, 1968. Farm Bureau Insurance Group. Early Indians of Michigan. Lansing, MI: Farm Bureau Insurance Group, n.d. Halsey, John R. (Editor). Indians in Michigan. Great Lakes Informant, Series 2, Number 10. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of State, History Division, 1984. Sturtevant, William C. (Editor). Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 15. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978. Tanner, Helen Hornbeck (Editor). Atlas of Great Lakes Indian History. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1987.
“I will build a car for the great multitude. It will be large enough for the family, but small enough for the individual to run and care for. It will be constructed of the best materials, by the best men to be hired, after the simplest designs that modern engineering can devise. But it will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one – and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in ***’s great open spaces.” ~Henry Ford This lesson is designed to help students understand the implications of different industrial and technological changes in the workforce and consumer culture. Students will demonstrate this understanding through comparisons to today’s industry. Materials Needed You will need a copy of the February 2004 Issue of The Mitten (found here on SeekingMichigan.org), to be handed out to students in class as a reading activity. Copies/pictures of original Model T advertisements, which can be found here: www.hfmgv.org/exhibits/showroom/1908/ads.html Students will need access to current magazines, either at home or at school, and they will need permission to cut them apart. We recommend scissors, posterboard, construction paper, markers, and some adhesive be available in class for this lesson. Mastery Questions After giving students sufficient time to read the brochure, either in groups or alone, depending on their age group, pose these questions, which directly refer to the information in the text. 1. Why was the Model T such a popular car? 2. What did a driver need to keep a Model T running? Why was it important that a Model T be easy to repair? 3. What do you think the newspaper meant when it said, “Ford Motor Company has beaten out both the (U.S.) flag and the Constitution in carrying civilization into the wild places of the world.”? 4. What are the differences between natural, human, and capital resources? Which is the most/least profitable? Compare and Contrast: Then and Now After having read the brochure and discussing the information about Henry Ford briefly in class, have students collect and bring in current automotive ads from newspapers and magazines. Compare and contrast features of the Model T, from the original ads and from other pictures on the web (displayed on a projector screen in front of class) with features of cars today. Have students give examples of sales points from the ads they brought in and from the ads they created. What is different? What is the same? Create a Venn diagram with two interlocking circles. Label one “Model T” and one “Today’s Cars” and the intersection of the circles “Shared.” As a class, decide whether each sales point is unique to the Model T, unique to cars today, or whether they are an automotive feature shared by both time periods. Write the characteristics into the corresponding places on the Venn diagram. Discuss the reasons for any differences found. Creating an Advertisement Ask students to imagine that it is 1908. Henry Ford has come to them and asked them to design a print advertisement (there is no radio or TV) to convince people to buy his newest car, the Model T. Henry knows that in order to sell cars he needs to tell people how his car is different from other cars on the market. A good ad needs to have one strong “sales point” directed at a specific audience. Have students select and write down one target audience (men, women, families, people who have never owned a car, farmers) and their message for that audience. Then ask them to design an ad that conveys their message. Have the students explain to each other why they believe their graphic image will capture the attention of their audience and what distinctive features of the Model T their message uses. This Lesson Involves Michigan Education Standards as Follows: 3-G4.0.1 –Describe major kinds of economic activity in Michigan today, such as automobile manufacturing and explain the factors influencing the location of these economic activities. 3-E1.0.4 –Describe how entrepreneurs combine natural, human, and capital resources to produce goods and services in Michigan. 4-E1.0.1 –Identify questions economists ask in examining the United States (e.g. What is produced? How is it produced? How much is produced? Who gets what is produced? What role does the government play in the economy?). W.PS.03.01 –Exhibit personal style and voice to enhance the written message in both narrative (e.g., varied word choice and sentence structure, character description) and informational writing (e.g., examples, transitions, grammar and usage). W.GN.03.04 and W. GN.04.04 –Use the writing process to produce and present a research project; initiate research questions from content area text from a teacher-selected topic; and use a variety of resources to gather and organize information. In .04.04 narrow research questions, take notes and draw conclusions. Further Explorations: For additional ideas and lesson plans related to the Model T, go to: Henry Ford’s The Model T Road Trip: Lesson Plans, at: http://www.thehenryford.org/exhibits/smartfun/class/modelt/lessons.html
What it means to ‘pack the wagon’ has changed over the past couple hundred years. Today, it might mean heading to the beach with floaties and beach bags. Two hundred years ago, though, packing your wagon meant fitting as many of your belongings and as much food as you could in a covered wagon. Think Oregon Trail. Think sleeping in a two-person tent with six people. Think staring at the back end of a horse all day long–that’ll give a new meaning to the term road trip. When people first began moving to Michigan, before it was even called Michigan, these were the kinds of things they had to deal with in order to get here. Imagine wanting to go to Michigan that badly. Getting a Feel for the Past Settlers began coming to Michigan from the east between 1800 and 1830. First, they came by wagon and horseback, and then after the completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, many came by barge to Buffalo and then by steamboat to Detroit. From there, they again used land transportation to travel further inland. Many settlers also sailed by boat on the Great Lakes and settled in towns along the shores. After 1830, the population of Michigan grew very fast. See the growth in this chart: Population Year 8,765 1820 31,640 1830 212,26 1840 397,654 1850 749,113 1860 _______________________________________________________ Settlers began to move to the Northwest Territory of Michigan from the East for many reasons. Some came to buy inexpensive farm land, others to join relatives already here. A sense of adventure brought young and single men. Later (1840s+), they came to fill jobs (for example, recruiters went to large eastern cities or advertised in eastern newspapers for men to work in the mining and lumbering industries). Visualize the Journey Students will make choices based on reason and practicality. Students will measure various objects and fit them into a defined space. Key Components: You Will Need…. Removable tape or chalk; yard stick or ruler; objects that can be found in the classroom, brought from home or around the school–backpacks, lunchbags, jackets, shoes, desk chairs, basketballs, class pet, etc. To Begin the Journey, We Must Assess the Space: Packing Means Prioritizing Divide students into groups of 4-8, depending on the size of the class and the space available to work with. You will need enough space for each group to mark an area on the floor approximately the size of a wagon bed-about 10 to 12 feet long by 4 to 6 feet wide by 2 feet high. Use removable duct or masking tape or chalk to outline the area. Ask the students imagine that they are members of a pioneer family coming to Michigan to buy a farm in 1830. Have students make up a family profile. How many people are in the family? What are their ages and sizes? Who does the most work, and who does the least? Who needs to eat the most, and who needs to eat the least? Create a list of roles for each group. Different roles will have different decision-making tasks about what to bring. Each group might make up a different list, e.g., household items (coats & backpacks), tools to start farm (pencils, rulers?), children’s things, clothing, etc. After lists are made, have groups report back and write lists on chalkboard. Divide the items into three lists: Absolutely necessary—must take Things we would take if there is room, useful but could do without (e.g., a special piece of furniture); Fun items, toys, “extra” clothes. With the measured area in sight, the class should come to an agreement on what will be included. What is a necessity? Do you need to bring your desk chairs? Or would a basketball be more appropriate? How about the class pet? Why? What things on the list can be left behind? Estimate the measurement of household items, tools, or measure similar items at home. Decide what will be taken so that all will fit, including people. Will everyone ride? Communicating to the Crowd: Talk About It 1. How did you go about choosing what to take? If members of the group disagreed, how did you make the decision? How do you think the members of an early settlement family made their decisions? 2. Would settlers have taken livestock with them to Michigan? 3. Choose a year in settlement times (e.g., 1840). Find out how far people traveled in a day at that time. Decide how long it would have taken you to travel the same distance you would cover on a field trip from your school to the Michigan Historical Museum in Lansing. At The Museum Besides bringing things with them, settlers brought their ideas, language, religions, styles of clothing and other ways of life with them to Michigan. Identify unique aspects of your community that may have come with early settlers. What do recent newcomers to our communities bring that enhance our lives? Notice the articles that were brought to Michigan by settlers, e.g., cradle, spinning wheel, farm tools. On the bus trip home, compile a list of those items with the students. Discuss what other items might the settlers have made after they arrived in Michigan. Why didn’t they bring them (e.g., too large, didn’t anticipate their need)? Try the “plank road ride.” Discuss how it would feel and sound to ride over Michigan’s plank roads for many hours. What were the advantages of plank roads over dirt roads in different types of weather? If you were moving to a Michigan town at a later time in history, what would you bring? How might those things differ from what the early pioneers brought? Why? Vocabulary Erie Canal: A waterway around 360 miles long constructed across central New York state from Albany to Buffalo used for travel and shipping. It is now part of the New York State Canals. Necessity: Something that cannot be done without. Michigan Social Studies Curriculum Content Standards This lesson presents an opportunity to address, in part, these standards: 2.3.3. GEOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE: Identify people, goods, services, and ideas in their community which have come from other places, and describe why they moved. 2.3.5. GEOGRAPHIC PERSPECTIVE: Describe the causes, consequences, routes, and movement of major migration in the United States. 3.4.2. CIVIC PERSPECTIVE: Describe fair ways for groups to make decisions. References Andrist, Ralph K. The Erie Canal (An American Heritage Junior Library Book). Mahwah, NJ: Troll Associates, 1964. Dunbar, Willis F., and May, George S. Michigan: A History of the Wolverine State (Revised Ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1980. Millis, Wade. When Michigan Was Born. Michigan History Magazine, 36 (December, 1952), pp. 321-50.
When the Toledo War took place in 1835 and 1836 between Michigan and Ohio, the conflict over the Michigan-Ohio Border was already nearly fifty years old. From what essentially boils down to a misunderstanding, both Michigan and Ohio claimed a certain 468-sq-mile piece of territory, in which lies what we now know as Toledo, Ohio. In 1835, this cold conflict came to a head when Michigan and Ohio each tried to claim the territory as their own. Teach your students about what it means to be a state, and how Michigan achieved Statehood as an indirect result of the Toledo War.
Learning The Lives of Soldiers This lesson helps students become familiar with field research projects by asking the question, Can we find information about Civil War soldiers who may have lived in your neighborhood? By trying to answer this question, students will learn about Civil War history in their community, the soldiers who lived there, and the value of knowing how to conduct independent research by examining resources such as the library, historical societies, cemeteries, archives, etc. Students will also have the opportunity to conduct on the ground interviews with family members and other individuals relevant to the Civil War. *This lesson will require leaving school grounds; be aware that you will need to plan for parental permission in advance. If that is not an option, you can try to provide in-class resources to use, such as a speaker, journals from the time period, and online resources. *It is up to the teacher to decide how much Civil War background students should have when going into this lesson; that level will vary based on grade. We do suggest students have at least a general understanding of the conflict between the North and South before this lesson is given. The Roadmap to Discovery Students will: learn where to find resources that help research a topic explore local resources (library, archives, cemeteries, monuments) to seek information conduct personal interviews, if possible, to gain perspective write a response to the question documenting their findings Beginning to Build a Framework of Familiarity Before beginning this unit, take time to familiarize yourself with your community’s resources such as the local library, historical records and archives, cemeteries, monuments, members of your local historical society (they can be invaluable). Find out what materials are available for you and your students to use. Inquire whether there are any Civil War aficionados in your community that might be willing to speak to your class. There are of course a plethora of resources online, but try to encourage using resources that allow hands-on research. The teacher can engage and develop students’ confidence in doing historical research by giving their students the time and guidance to use those resources. Work can be completed individually, in partners, or in small groups. For younger students, class discussion and activity may be more productive. However, regardless of grade level, each student should be able to write a response to their historical study during this unit. Because Civil War soldiers came from all areas of Michigan, it is expected that students will be able to answer the focus question in the positive. Project Stage 1: Commence the Quest When a person volunteered for enlistment, he became registered as a soldier. His name, age, hometown, and photograph were documented. Places like the Archives of Michigan and other historical societies have many of these kinds of documents available to researchers. There can also be journals or letters available to the public. Introduce students to the concept of researching available materials to find an answer to the initial prompt. List the kinds of things that you would like students to search for. These search criteria are yours to decide; things like family & occupation, nationality, perhaps religion, etc. in addition to the standard name and age. Project Stage 2: Embarking on an Investigation The investigative activities for this lesson will depend on the local resources of your community. Listed below are some possibilities. Civil War Monument Investigation Look in a city park or near a courthouse to locate possible war monuments. If veterans’ names are listed on the monuments, students can then determine if any of these veterans are buried there. Buildings, streets, or parks are sometimes named after war heroes. Perhaps there are buildings or streets or parks in the community that carry the names of a Civil War hero. Having a list of veterans’ names becomes helpful for further research. Cemetery Investigation You can probably find maps to cemeteries online; you may want to contact the sexton in advance to see if he or she will be available to direct your cemetery tour. Have students explore the cemetery and gather information. Suggest they take notes, record dates from tombstones and grave markers, and record ages of those buried there. Are there markers that show death between the dates of 1861-1865? If so, there is a possibility that the soldier died during service. (Note that a majority of soldier deaths were due to illness and disease, not the direct result of war injuries.) Have students form groups and let them determine who will be responsible for each part of recording information for the project. http://michigan.gov/images/mhc_mhm_cw_monument_44405_7.jpg Instruct students to look for U.S. flags. They will see that they mark where soldiers have been buried. Metal markers that read G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) honor soldiers from the Civil War. If you have the available resources, take photographs of the graves, draw pictures, or (if you have prior permission) do rubbings of the tombstones. Have them take notes on what is written on the stones, draw a map of the cemetery and record what they found. Ask students to record answers to the following, if possible: 1. What is special about the grave markers of people who fought in the Civil War? 2. What kinds of military designations are there on the Civil War grave markers? 3. Are there any drawings or decorative carvings on the grave markers? 4. How large or small are the markers? What condition are they in? 5. Where are the soldiers’ graves in relationship to the graves of family members? 6. How many different companies did these soldiers represent during the Civil War? Library or Historical Archive Investigation Contact your local library, historical society or archives ahead of time. Arrange a time to take students to one of these locations to talk with staff. Instruct students to take notes. Assist them in exploring the reference section to see if it includes a genealogical or local history section of the community to find further information about the names they’ve learned. If you are unable to get to your local/state archives, many Civil War records can be found on Seeking Michigan Help them find the set of books Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865-commonly referred to as “The Brown Books”. These books include the history and roster of infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers and mechanics and “colored troops”. Students can use the index guide to find information regarding specific soldiers. Jonothan Robertson’s 1882 book Michigan in the War includes tables and charts with such information as the number of years soldiers served, the number of troops furnished by each state and the number of troops who served in different categories. Personal Interview Investigation Instruct students to check with their families and friends to see if any of their relatives lived in the community at the time of the Civil War. If so, have them find out if any relatives fought in the Civil War. Families may have family trees that they are willing to share with the class. Many times war stories are passed down through generations. Be cautious, however, as stories are many times, just that, stories! Perhaps families or friends have access to journals, photographs, or letters that may be shared. Instruct students to record information that they acquire. Guest Speaker When possible, invite knowledgeable members of the community into the classroom to present and answer student questions. Project Stage 3: Putting Pen to Paper Once research has been completed, students will write a response to the question: Did Civil War soldiers come from your neighborhood, and if so, what information can we find out about them? Students should use their notes to write a summary of the findings of their exploration. Encourage students to be thorough in the documentation of their research. As an extension, have students write a letter imagining they were a character living at that time such as a young boy or girl writing to their father who went off to war, or a parent of a soldier, or a soldier who went off to war writing to a girlfriend, a parent, a spouse, a son or daughter. Teachers may wish to develop a rubric for students to use when writing and for teacher evaluation; we have not included one because the same qualifications are not applicable to the entire grade range. References: Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865, compiled by George H. Turner, Assistant Adjutant General, State of Michigan. Published by Ihling Bros.& Everard Stationers, Printers and Publishers, Kalamazoo, Michigan, under Act 147, Public Acts of 1903. Michigan In the War compiled by Jno. Robertson Adjutant General. Published by W. S. George & Co., State Printers and Binders, 1882. The American Civil War Coloring Book. Ocala, FL: Action Publishing, 1994. Mason, Philip P. From Bull Run to Appomattox: Michigan’s Role in the Civil War. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University, 1961. Michigan. Adjutant General’s Department. Michigan in the War. Lansing, MI: W. S. George & Co., 1882. Smith, A.G. Union Army Paper Soldiers. NY: Dover, 1995. Truesdell, Barbara. Oral History Techniques: How to Organize and Conduct Oral History Interviews. Indiana University Oral History Research Center. Williams, Frederick D. Michigan Soldiers in the Civil War, Fourth Edition. Lansing, MI: Michigan Department of State, 1998.
Studying history can be difficult for students because they have no frame of reference to understand the political, economic, and social forces of the historical period. Primary documents can communicate a distinct impression of a given era. By viewing documents from a range of perspectives, levels of society, and positions of power, students are able to interpret and compose a more educated evaluation of an era.