A visit to colonial North Carolina
This lesson extends student learning about the colonial period in North Carolina history by incorporating primary sources from the Documenting the American South collection. After reading first-hand accounts of travelers to colonial America, students will create their own travel brochure advertising North Carolina.
A lesson plan for grade 8 Social Studies
- learn why people traveled from Europe to the New World and what they were most interested in finding.
- learn about colonial experiences and the features of the New World colonists encountered such as geography, resources, indigenous peoples, and others.
- compare early observations about the Carolinas with more modern ones and understand change over time.
- uncover hidden biases in the persuasive writing of early travel narratives.
Time required for lesson
Two to three days
- Print or electronic copies of documents (see activities)
- Copies of the Colonial North Carolina Travel Brochure handout — one per student
- Art materials for paper brochure or computer software such as Microsoft Publisher
- Computer lab or individual student computers
- If desired, Publisher or word processing software for creating the brochure
Prior to these activities students should be familiar with issues related to America’s colonial past and some of its features.
- Choose excerpts from the following documents
- Lawson, John, 1674–1711 New Voyage to Carolina; Chapter V
- “Description of North Carolina by Alexander Schaw” in Journal of a Lady of Quality
- Bartram, William Section II, Chapter V in Travels Through North & South Carolina, Georgia, East & West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges, or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Chactaws
- Divide the class into smaller groups (three to four students per group) and assign each group one of the documents to read.
- As the students read they should fill out a chart with information that corresponds to required elements of the travel brochure: geography, people, occupations, housing food, transportation, and religion.
- Regroup the class (jigsaw method). Place students in groups of three. Each student in the group should have each read a different document.
- The students should teach each other about their document and help their classmates fill out the remainder of the chart.
- Have the whole class come together and the teacher will list on the board characteristics of North Carolina identified by the authors and recorded by the students.
- A discussion or brief written activity of the experiences of the travelers, their writing styles, evidence of persuasion or bias should serve as the closure activity for this class.
- Give each student a copy of the Colonial North Carolina Travel Brochure handout. They should be encouraged to advertise the colony in a persuasive style and be creative.
- Optional: students can construct a brochure using Microsoft Publisher or other publishing software or word processing. If no computers are available, students could use construction paper, magazine photographs, and their own drawings.
Students’ travel brochures should be assessed by creating a rubric based on the required elements in the project.
If desired, you can take this activity a step further. Extension Assignment one compares observations of the Carolinas in the 20th century with those of the colonial era. Extension Assignment two describes the homeland of an African slave to the Carolinas and encourages students to compare the two regions of the world.
Extension assignment one
- Ask students to search for descriptions from the Documenting the American South collection that describe the state in the 19th or 20th century. Some suggestions:
- Henry E. Colton The Scenery of the Mountains of Western North Carolina and Northwestern South Carolina. 2 p., ix–xii, 13–120, (Raleigh, NC: W. L. Pomeroy, 1859).
- Eastern Carolina Chamber of Commerce (Kinston, NC) Eastern North Carolina, Where Prosperity is Perennial, Invites You! (Kinston, N.C.: Eastern Carolina Chamber of Commerce, 1924?).
- Southern Railway (US). Passenger Traffic Dept. Autumn and Winter in the Land of the Sky. (Washington, DC: Passenger Traffic Dept., Southern Railway Co., 1915?).
- These documents were written in the 19th and 20th centuries. How has the authors’ choice of subjects changed or stayed the same? What seems to be most important to these authors? What are they concerned with presenting to the reader?
- Discuss any evidence of bias in these accounts. Two of these accounts are not personal writings, but rather corporate/business writing. How has this impacted their discussion of place (either in choice of subject, tone, etc.)?
- How do these sources relate to the colonial sources in terms of persuasion? Do they also try to encourage the reader to visit or settle in the areas discussed? How successful are the authors?
Extension assignment two
- Another option involves having students search the Documenting the American South collection for alternative perspectives than the white European accounts featured in this lesson. A suggestion for African perspectives includes: Boyrereau Brinch, Benjamin F. Prentiss, The Blind African Slave, or Memoirs of Boyrereau Brinch, Nick-named Jeffrey Brace. Containing an Account of the Kingdom of Bow-Woo, in the Interior of Africa; with the Climate and Natural Productions, Laws, and Customs Peculiar to That Place. With an Account of His Captivity, Sufferings, Sales, Travels, Emancipation, Conversion to the Christian Religion, Knowledge of the Scriptures, ∓c. Interspersed with Strictures on Slavery, Speculative Observations on the Qualities of Human Nature, with Quotation from Scripture. (ST. Albans, VT: Harry Whitney, 1810).
- This text describes Africa. Does the author discuss similar aspects of the geography present in the colonial American sources? Explain.
- What can the reader learn about the geographic factors of this African region just by reading the text.
- Comment on the validity of this text. Does this seem to be an accurate account? How could a historian use this source to explain the history of Africa?
- North Carolina Essential Standards
- Social Studies (2010)
- 8.C.1 Understand how different cultures influenced North Carolina and the United States. 8.C.1.1 Explain how exploration and colonization influenced Africa, Europe and the Americas (e.g. Columbian exchange, slavery and the decline of the American Indian populations)....
- 8.G.1 Understand the geographic factors that influenced North Carolina and the United States. 8.G.1.1 Explain how location and place have presented opportunities and challenges for the movement of people, goods, and ideas in North Carolina and the United States....
- 8.H.1 Apply historical thinking to understand the creation and development of North Carolina and the United States. 8.H.1.1 Construct charts, graphs, and historical narratives to explain particular events or issues. 8.H.1.2 Summarize the literal meaning of...
- Social Studies (2010)
North Carolina curriculum alignment
Social Studies (2003)
- Goal 1: The learner will analyze important geographic, political, economic, and social aspects of life in the region prior to the Revolutionary Period.
- Objective 1.01: Assess the impact of geography on the settlement and developing economy of the Carolina colony.
- Objective 1.02: Identify and describe American Indians who inhabited the regions that became Carolina and assess their impact on the colony.
- Objective 1.03: Compare and contrast the relative importance of differing economic, geographic, religious, and political motives for European exploration.
- Objective 1.05: Describe the factors that led to the founding and settlement of the American colonies including religious persecution, economic opportunity, adventure, and forced migration.