Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I have been postponing my summary blog of Boston for two reasons: I found out my AP US History class was in jeopardy of cancellation during the trip (which was cancelled the following week after the trip) and because I felt the need to process the information for a while.  *And yes, for those who know me so well, also a bit of procrastination.

During my trip I kept thinking about how I was going to utilize all the information gathered (and all of the curriculum materials purchased!) to tell the story of Boston as a center for New England life in the 16th and 17th centuries.  I purchased materials at Walden’s Pond on Henry David Thoreau and Transcendentalism, a subject I have struggled with teaching my AP students, received curriculum materials on the USS Constitution (although I can’t use too much of it, it is GREAT info for me to help teach the importance of “old ironsides” and help to develop lessons of my own) and of course the curriculum booklet from Plimoth Plantation.

For the past week and a half, I’ve been thinking about how I am going to adjust my thoughts/lesson ideas for the remaining courses I am teaching: Modern U.S. History taught in a thematic approach, Honors Modern U.S. History on the same curriculum map and much to my dismay, a ninth grade World History course also taught thematically.  I have much to revise before August 10th.  But for all the possible lesson ideas I was jotting down, and all the curriculum materials purchased, there is nothing that can replace the two most valuable pieces of this trip for me- the blogging activity and the living history experiences.

Blogging:

The blogging experience was a bit unnerving for me at first. I’m not one to put my own personal thoughts out there for examination by others. I did however quickly see the need for such an activity on such a long trip. With so many sites and experiences, much would have been overlooked or lost without the daily focus of what did I want to focus and write about and the process of taking what I had learned and trying to write it in a concise manner for reflection and use later.  My blog posts became longer by the day as I saw the use for them as a tool later on.  Three summers ago I had the privilege to travel with a group of teachers for ten days to Turkyie- a beautiful country with a rich history.  I enjoyed my experience, taking over a thousand pictures of sites I never thought I would have visited. My intent was to take all the information learned and construct a lesson for my school (which I did as a powerpoint) and a scrap book for myself.  The pictures and the scrap book are still in the shopping bag three years later and I hate to say this, but I have lost a lot of what I learned.  This is why I am ever so thankful for the blogging requirement of the trip.  Knowing some of what I saw might be lost, I wrote nearly every day, not necessarily on my blog but in a word document that is over nine pages long of information regarding sites, exhibits and experiences of the trip.  I also see the value of blogs in helping those who otherwise hate classroom discussions (like myself) voice their thoughts in a non-threatening environment.  Blogging is something I intend to have my honors students engage in this year.

The second aspect of the trip that I found to be most valuable for me as an educator were the living history museums with “interpreters” who engage visitors in both third and first person views.  Being from Colorado, the only place like this for us as far as I am aware is Bent’s Fort in southeastern Colorado.  Too far away for me to get approval to take students for a day of learning about the West before Colorado was a state.  However, this trip has proved to me the NEED for such experiences for students. We know that students (and ourselves) learn better when we are engaged in hands on activities. If we can cook the 17th century meal and actually identify our “oven number” at Sturbridge or talk to passengers aboard the Mayflower II or watch a Plimoth settler construct a fence, then we understand more the complexity of life for others back then, and maybe learn a little about ourselves today.

I have a stronger desire to take students out of Colorado and give them the opportunity to experience history in the manner this Boston trip has given me.  My ultimate desire would be to create an elective course at school where students sign up for the course and during the year we travel to a city in the United States rich in history and educational experiences (Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., New York City, etc.).  Assigned work in the course would be outside related readings- books and articles- in class history lessons about the area, culminating in the trip and then a final assessment portfolio of what they have learned.  I believe we would have students more involved in history and would be utilizing more of the skills scholars utilize each day.

In short, this trip has infused a passion in history for me that I rarely studied independently.  Early American history was not interesting to me, until my 2011 trip to Boston. I purchased two books to help me begin my new joy and look forward to a year off from AP US History in which I can spend some time (and all next summer) creating new in-depth lessons on the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Plimoth Plantation, and 17th century colonial life (this lesson will infuse a lot of hands on learning).

I would like to thank everyone involved in making this trip a possibility, including Dr. Matt Harris, Dr. Jonathan Rees, and Mr. David Hazlett.  You all have given me the much needed infusion of passion for history that I needed to jump start the 2011-2012 school year.  I appreciate your willingness to help others and your patience working with 30 history teachers and all their needs! My future students will appreciate all the knowledge you have imparted upon us all.

Advertisements

The Rebecca Nurse Memorial

When visiting the Rebecca Nurse homestead I did not intend on using this site as my historiography blog post. However, after realizing that I had multiple pictures of Rebecca Nurse’s memorial I changed my mind. I found this site (and memorial) interesting because it seemed out-of-place. Let me explain:

Background: The Rebecca Nurse Homestead is now a 25 acre site dedicated to the teaching of 17th century colonial life and the significance of Salem Village (now Danvers) during the Salem witch trials of 1691-1692. The homestead consists of the saltbox style house, once owned by Towsend Bishop built in 1636; styled to give you an idea of what a typical 17th century colonial house looked like, a small plot of land still farmed today (the young man who works there could not remember what the crop was but explained that local farmers utilize the fields), and a private cemetery, with many family graves (including the Putnams, relatives of Ann Putnam, Rebecca Nurse accuser).

Rebecca Nurse home

What I found to be interesting at this site was the little mention of Nurse’s experiences in the witch trials. The only discussion of her experiences in the winter of ’91-92 was in a fifteen minute video displayed on the walls of a reconstructed meetinghouse (the setting for the movie Three Sovereigns for Sarah) and the memorial in the private cemetery.

Memorial for Rebecca Nurse

Memorial for Rebecca Nurse

I think I became so fascinated with this memorial for Rebecca Nurse because it seemed a bit out of place considering much of what was discussed on the homestead was not about her life during the trials, but what colonial life in the 17th century was like. It almost felt as if the accusation of witchcraft was the “dirty little family secret” and not something the Danvers Alarm List Company wanted to focus on. Furthermore, it was their brochure I picked up where I learned the significance of Nurse’s great-grandson, Francis, who was a sergeant in Captain John Putnam’s Militia Company and participated in the events of April 19th, 1775 as he marched with his men to Concord- an interesting piece of family history I do not recall
seeing ANY information about it during the trip.

As for the artifact the Memorial for Rebecca Nurse:

The Rebecca Nurse Homestead was inhabited by many different families, including the Bishops, Nurses, and Putnams from 1636-1908 when the Rebecca Nurse Memorial Association acquired it, and eventually it was transferred to the Danvers Alarm List Company (since 1981). The memorial for Nurse was erected in 1885 by her family members. Interestingly, according to Professor Baker, not only is it questionable whether Nurses body is located in the graveyard, but one would not know WHERE the body lies, if indeed she is on the premises. The first question to ask oneself is, “does it matter whether she is buried
there or not?” Had I visited to graveyard without the guide of Prof. Baker, I would have assumed she was onsite, and more than likely around the area of the monument. It is family lore that after Nurse’s hanging at Gallows Hills her family removed her body (illegally as witches were not permitted to have a Christian burial) and brought her remains to the homestead for a proper burial.

Front of Nurse Memorial

*Since I had not envisioned this being my artifact blog, you will have to forgive the following statement- it is based on what I think I remember from Prof. Baker. I believe he said it was possible for the body to have been removed from Gallows Hill, a few blocks perhaps to a waiting boat, then sailed down to an area near the homestead and placed in the family cemetery. Possible, but I would like to see a map from 1692 showing the waterway. I believe if the water way was close enough, it might have been possible for the family to have  removed her body. If the water was not close, I cannot buy into the belief that she is actually buried there.   But again, does it matter if her body is actually on site?

Nurse Memorial

Backside of Nurse Memorial

Erected on July 30th, 1885 by the Nurse family, the goal of the memorial is to echo her words (also etched on backside of the memorial), “I am innocent and God will clear my innocence!” The memorial is to remind visitors of the false accusation of Rebecca Nurse. If the granite memorial did not convince you enough that she was falsely accused as stated at
the bottom of the backside of the memorial, “In loving memory of her Christian character, even then fully attested by forty of her neighbors” you can look to the monument erected in 1892 which lists the names of the neighbors (including a Putnam- looks like they had some family drama too!) who had signed the petition defending Nurse against the accusations of witchcraft.

1892 memorial

1892 Monument

My remaining question regarding the memorial is centered on the time the memorial was constructed: July 1885. Why was the memorial constructed 193 years after Nurse’s execution in July 1692? 193 years is not a milestone anniversary, nor is it a milestone for any of the following years in which Salem publically apologizes for the trials and pays a meager  restitution to the victim’s families.  The homestead was inherited by the Putnam family (Phineas Putnam) in 1784 and remained in the family until 1908 when it was sold to the Rebecca Nurse Memorial Association for restoration.   In 1885 when the memorial was erected the United States was in the midst of an era commonly known as the “Gilded Age,” a time in which the United States suffered from political corruption but advanced  technologically and economically in a boom period of industrialization.  During this time wealthy individuals became philanthropists and highlighted their wealth with art,  architecture, etc.  Perhaps the family became more prosperous during this period and chose to restore honor to the Nurse family name by constructing a memorial for visitors.  And perhaps the memorial for Nurse alone was enough to convince others of her innocence and the family again paid for the construction of the 1892 monument listing the names of the forty individuals who pledged their support for the God-fearing Christian.  This monument may have also been constructed because several of the neighbors who signed the petition in favor of Nurse were Putnams and this monument is to also restore the tarnish of Ann Putnam’s accusation (and later apology) on the family name.

One thing is certain, the more I think about this memorial and the history behind it, I become more intrigued.  Detailed information online is scarce about the family histories of the Nurses and Putnams, but I believe to truly understand the motivations for the erection of the memorials the family histories need to be researched.  Apparently I also need to read the Crucible!

“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America.—I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival.” – John Adams, July 3rd, 1776

Which day do you celebrate America’s Independence, July 2nd or July 4th??

Sounds like a strange question, why wouldn’t you celebrate America’s Independence on July 4th.  After all, the Declaration of Independence, the document we revere for separating us from England and giving us our independence was approved and signed on July 4th, 1776, right?

The Second Continental Congress was called to convene May 10th, 1775 if Britain had not addressed the grievances of the colonies.  As Congress met the summer of 1775 hostilities had already erupted.  The discussions of Congress included everything from issuing paper money and road conditions (especially between the colonies) to procuring gunpowder for the Continental Army and repayment to civilians for items commandeered by the military.  At the beginning of the Second Congress, many Americans still wanted peace with England and believed it was possible.  However, as the war continued on, it became apparent to many in the colonies that reconciliation with England was not a possibility and independence was needed.

In June of 1776, Richard Henry Lee, Virginian delegate, proposed “certain resolutions”:

  1. “That these United colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from the allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.”
  2. That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.
  3. That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

Congress wanted to give colonies time to accept Independence, so the resolutions were postponed for three weeks, until July 1st. During this three week break from the discussion, a Committee of Five was established to prepare a formal Declaration of Independence.  It is this document that we all celebrate as our Independence on July 4th, the day the final version was agreed upon by the “Committee of the Whole” and accepted by Congress.  Congress voted for Independence on July 2, with all but New York voting in favor of (New York’s delegates had not yet received word on whether the New York colonial government approved or not- approval came the week after).

It’s not surprising that the founding fathers thought that the day of celebrations for Independence would be July 2nd; after all this is the day that Congress came together and voted for Independence.  But today we celebrate the day the actual document was finalized (after much editing).  Many people have said we celebrate the day it was signed.  Not true. Only two signatures appeared on the document when it was first published for the newly independent states to read to their citizenry, John Hancock, President of the Congress and Charles Thomson, Secretary.  The signatures we see today were added later to the document. Many of them in August, 1776 and even some after.  For our founding fathers, the document that we hold today with such high esteem was not as significant as the act of voting for Independence. While Congress did spend two days editing the Jefferson draft during a very tense time (July 3rd British troops off the coast of New York, began to disembark) once it was finalized they quickly moved on to other items necessary to ensure our nation’s birth was not short lived.  As Maier points out in her book, American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence, the DOI as a document was popularized during the early 1800s as a wave of patriotism once again swept the nation after the War of 1812, a Second War for Independence in which the United States once again defeated Great Britain.

So, which day do you celebrate America’s Independence, July 2nd or July 4th?? To answer the question, you have to identify which event on these days was more significant, Congress voting in favor or Independence, or the adopting of the DOI. Without the vote in Congress on July 2nd, we would not have a July 4th to celebrate today.

Today we traveled about an hour from Salem into Lowell Massachusetts, the seat of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.  Our journey began with one of the most impressive museum exhibits we have seen thus far, the workings of 13 mechanized looms.  The sound from these looms was so unbelievably loud.  More shocking was the realization that not every loom in the room was turned on, more than 80 sat on the floor and even more shocking, at its height in that room at the Boott Cotton Mill there would have been between 150-200 looms, all working sun up to sun down. 

Mechanized loom

After a brief trip upstairs to the museum, we walked to the boarding house, where young Lowell women were lodged during their tenure.  Each housed around forty girls, all unmarried, many from rural farms seeking new economic opportunities.  If you are thinking that the houses look small to house forty women, you are quite right. In fact, while each girl slept in a room  of four with two beds. Downstairs by the kitchen was the room of the keeper, usually an older woman who cooked and cleaned for the forty girls living in the boardinghouse. 

Attracting the Lowell Girls

Lowell Girls dining room table- they ate very well

When thinking about which job I would rather have, at the time I thought the job of the girls sounded better than that of the keeper. Yes I would be working in an extremely loud room where I could possibly lose my hearing, suffer from brown lung, a respiratory illness much like the miner’s black lung due to the fibers and dust in poorly ventilated areas; however, I would not have to cook three meals for forty girls, clean for forty girls, and try to maintain the personal integrity of forty girls, many working to save for a dowry and meet a nice boy to marry.  

At the gift store I bought my “artifacts” for part of my lesson I am developing regarding this day.  I have a piece of cotton (uncarded), two bobbins of thread, and cut pieces of fabric from the mechanized looms we saw in action.  I am going to begin discussing my immigration unit using these pieces and “weave” (awesome) the Industrial Revolution into it.  Inquiry based, similar to what we did at the Paul Revere house with documents, an artifact and their brains.  Still contemplating how it will all come together, so if you have suggestions, LET ME KNOW!

 

My favorite part of today however was the hands on activity where we had the opportunity to take cotton and carded (straightened) the cotton fibers into something that can be spun into yarn.  We then hopped onto replica looms and spent a good twenty minutes weaving.  I tried all the patterns and was excited to hear that we will get our pieces we created! I was also very excited that my shuttle was not connected to the loom when I first sat down, so I was able to pick a new thread color – any guesses as to what color I chose? That’s right, they had MY FAVORITE COLOR!

Pretty in Pink: Bob the master weaver

Beaming with excitement from the weaving activity (yep- doesn’t take much to make me happy) I realized that, had my parents had a loom and some sheep, if living in New England, or some cotton, if living in the south, I would have been content living in the 19th century with my loom.  Maybe that should go on this year’s Christmas list- Mom, can I have a replica loom, carding tools and some cotton for Christmas?

Day Six: Walking tour of Salem and Peabody Essex Museum

Living History Museum or Traditional Museum: How do you learn best?

On this trip we have had the amazing opportunity to visit several different museums of all variety. We traveled to Plymouth to see the Plimoth Plantation, a truly unique experience with multiple exhibits presented in first person interpretation with many hands on activities.  The opposite of the Plimoth Plantation was the Peabody Essex Museum. In this prestigious museum, artifacts are locked up behind glass  or roped off in a historic building with docents discussing the history behind artifacts in guided tours (or you can learn about the piece reading a summary plaque).

I enjoyed all the museums we have visited, however I did find that I remember information more from one type of museum.  Below are some brief Pros and Cons for each:

Living Museums

Examples: Plimoth Plantation and Old Sturbridge Village*

     Pros

  • Historians interpret history, usually in first person. They assume the roles of a figure or role in history and act out the role.  If a man is emulating a farmer, he will carry on with farming when visitors are not stopping to ask questions- meaning if you are patient and watch, you will see some exciting things!  *At Sturbridge Village I watched women in the farmhouse mix the ingredients for a currant pie.  This is where I learned the number rule for the brick oven. 
  • Setting for museum is typically large and unique.  The exhibits are generally outdoors, providing ample space for large groups and children (this is VERY important with small children!).  You literally feel as if you’ve been transported back in time, without “the flux capacitor” according to Bentley.
  • The interpreters are extremely knowledgeable on their subject. They have to be, they are literally living it during park hours.

    Nice kid at Sturbridge telling us all about the livestock and barn

Cons-

  • The living interpreters stay in character.  Meaning their explanations can be a bit confusing and it may take several attempts to ask the question in a way that you will get the type of response you were seeking.  Many accents are also very “thick”- a novelty for us “accent neutral” Coloradans (again, thanks Mr. Bentley).
  • Some days you won’t see everything. Even living historians get a day off!  That means if you are the blacksmith at Plimoth Plantation, you could be off on a Thursday and the Colorado group will not have the opportunity to meet you!  It also means sick days are not easy to cover; who would fill in for you?
  • Since many of the activities/places are hands on, many of the items you see are replicas.  They were not the “actual” artifact but recreated so that people can use them (and if they break them, it’s not a huge loss to scholarship, just your pocket book).

    Real livestock at Old Sturbridge Village- Pro or Con?

Traditional Museums

Examples: Peabody Essex Museum and Paul Revere House

Pros-

  • Can show multiple artifacts/artwork from different time periods, side by side, to highlight change.  Multiple time periods can be easily displayed.
  • Museum pieces are on display day and night, seven days a week.  Museums can set extended hours for special events with little effort.
  • Even though pieces may not be from an exact house or belonged to a specific individual, they are typically real pieces, not replicas (hence the roping and the glass… DO NOT TOUCH!)
  • Multi-media presentations (for those of us who like movies!)
  • If you choose to take a self-guided tour you are getting the same information as the next person, so long as you are reading your signage. You don’t have to miss out on anything if you don’t want to.
  • AIR CONDITIONING!

 

Cons

  • The objects/artifacts you see are (many times) under glass.  You can’t pick up and touch the items. In fact, it is very easy to set off alarms and have docents come running (okay, not running, but certainly looking with a disapproving eye).
  • NO PICTURES (or if you can take pics, no flash, which means if you have a camera like mine, there is no point). Also no gum!
  • Sterile environment.  The setting does not transport you back in time.  You have to use your imagination (and if you have none, that is the con).

    Paul Revere's house- no internal pics (no photography inside)

 

 As I stated earlier, I have thoroughly enjoyed all the museums I have been to (even those that made me feel claustrophobic).  I have learned so much from them all.  For my style of learning however, I learned more from the living history museums.  It gave me an opportunity to not only see, but touch (and even taste!) history and I have found that I have retained more information from these two sites (I recognize that I am not unique, many people learn better this way, but not everyone). However, it did reinforce for me that I need to focus on more hands on history. I need students to not only read and analyze, but touch and hear history more (I think we all believe this).  It is a weakness of mine I am looking to correct within my first unit of U.S. History: Immigration, then and now. Already writing down thoughts for that, if you have suggestions PLEASE let me know!

Sturbridge Village Part II:

I’ve often wondered while teaching students about early colonial society what it would have been like for myself. Could I “make the cut” as a colonial woman? I think of myself as an independent (as much as I can be) woman who is career oriented. Family is important to me, but not having my own children. So, how would I have fared in this time period? During the hands on activities in the afternoon at OSV I found some answers.

In colonial times, having a large family was important for the family business. The children helped to participate in the daily activities.  Not wanting to have children of my own (a personal choice) this philosophy would not have fared well.  FAILED!

In colonial times, women were expected to participate in household chores such as spinning cotton and making garments.  At OSV today I had the opportunity to take sheared wool and using the textile tools brush it to get out the clumps and create nice fine strands of wool. After some practice I had a nice pile of wool with little knots. Not too bad! However, we moved to the looms, the weaving of wool and thread together to make sewn items like blankets.  After seeing a demonstration of the spinning wheel and a variety of looms, we tried. Turns out, I’m not too terrible at working the loom, although I get easily distracted and forget when to alternate between the two sets of thread.

*In case you’re wondering, looms have two sets of strands, usually two different colors and you use a shuttle to weave weft (yep, weft, ie horizontal) to hold it all together and make different patterns. The shuttle is weaved left to right, then right to left, etc. as the strands (Warp) of thread alternate, locking the thread and wool together as you take the wooden piece in front and bring it forward on your garment to lock everything in tightly.

I was just about to give myself a C- for this hands on studio activity, but was impressed in how much I remembered about sewing, so I’d like to bump my grade to a B-. J

The most frightening aspect of colonial life in my opinion (for me) would be the cooking. For those who know me, you understand quite well. For others, bare with me.  Cooking the colonial meals meant cooking over the OPEN FIRE in the house. Earlier in the day I watched in the farm house in OSV the women bake. Baking only occurred once a week (unless I imagine you had teenage boys!) and usually took a good chunk of the morning.  The fire in both the large fireplace and small baker’s box preheat to about 700 degrees. That would be two hours of a “roaring” fire. First failure, I’m not sure what a “roaring” fire looks like.   We cooked a 17th century meal that would have been for an important event.  Our group split the duties, two cooked the whole chicken. Next failure since I HATE touching chicken. I blame my sister who works for the FDA. Next three ladies made the dough for rolls, then later shaped the dough. Again, I can’t recall ever kneading dough, nor wanting to touch sticky dough, so I fail on that account. But a big thanks for Andrea, Tammy and Chris G. for making the rolls, they were great ladies! Next dish was lemonade. Not bad, I like mine a little more tart than everyone else, but I can add quintessence and Citric Acid and stir with the best of them, A!! I could not help on the mash potatoes, because I don’t know what the consistency is supposed to be, nor how much butter, milk, etc. to put in. My dish that I helped on was the receipt Washington’s Cake (yep, receipt not recipe. That’s what they called recipes in colonial times). Washington’s cake is just like making any other cake. If you can make an Egyptian Torte Cake (and I can!) then you can make a Washington Cake! J B+ BTW: If you would like a receipt of Washington’s Cake, too bad. But I will gladly make it for you!

The best part of colonial baking is the measurement of oven temperatures.  To measure the temps, you need to know your number. To measure you stick your arm into the oven (once you’ve swept out all the fire remnants/embers)  and see HOW LONG IT TAKES BEFORE YOUR KNUCKLES FEEL THEY WILL BURN.  A scientific method for sure.  Apparently my number is 8 (either I’m a wuse or I did this too soon).  Once you know  your number you can put in your higher temperature items for cooking, first breads, then pies, custards, drying of herbs, etc. As the oven cooks foods and cools, lower temperature goods are placed.  Crazy huh? My question, which I did not get answered was, how do you learn your number? I’m assuming girls learned at a young age, but what is the process? At what point is it okay to have your young daughters put their hands in the hot oven? Overall, for cooking, I’d give myself an F. I do not like it, then or now.

And finally, the idea of being a good, obedient woman. Well, I would think of myself much like Abigail Adams, although not as eloquent. I am good and obedient in public when others are around.  Others in this time might view me as a good Puritan! I follow ALL the rules, even when I don’t necessarily agree with them, as long as no one is harmed.  At home, I’m a little sassy, but few see that side. So in this case, I believe I would be an exceptional colonial woman.

Overall, while today I got a “taste” of colonial life and don’t believe that the person that I am today would make for a good colonial wife, I also recognize that I would have been brought up differently if living during that time, and more than likely would not have minded touching raw chicken and touching dough; I would have known what a roaring fire was and did my chores with little complaint (unlike today).  Could Ms. Cox survive as a late 18th-early 19th century colonial woman? While in class I like to joke around and say no, I have to admit that I believe I could. I would not be the best cook or garment maker, but I would have survived just fine.

I wish I could take my students to Old Sturbridge Village. The hands on learning and discussions with interpreters in the village was fun and helped me have a much greater appreciation for the work of men and women during colonial times. The closest we have to us in Colorado is Bent’s Fort. Has anyone taken students there?

Sturbridge Village Part I

Today was an unusual day in that we spent the entire day in one location: Old Sturbridge Village (OVS).  This is a unique setting recreates a village from roughly 1838. The buildings at OVS were all authentic, although not all from Massachusetts.  They were acquired and brought to Sturbridge to recreate a colonial village. The site comes complete with interpreters (what I have been previously calling “living historians” and speak in the third person.  They do not take on a specific persona since the buildings do not all originate from the same time period. 

Before the afternoon activities we enjoyed a guided tour of some of the buildings in OVS- the Sawmill and Blacksmith shop, a family farmed owned by the Bixby family, and Pottery building with Kiln.   The most interesting of these was the pottery barn, where a gentleman (a potter?) was creating a clay pot and fielding questions. Upon the question by one of our participants “Can I try” he responded in what I think would be a typical response for the time period, “What makes you think you could do this?”  A fair response if you consider that, according to the potter, the trade was one done by men as women had too many chores in the home, and the fact that the trade is a skilled position. Before the industrial revolution the trade help masters and apprentices.  It would take several years to make a pot/vessel resemble the works the potter was creating in front of us. 

Farming at SturbridgeDerrick the Blacksmith

After lunch the hands-on activities began and this is where I began to ask myself the question…