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ERIC Number: EJ856344
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Aug
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2745
From Sources to Stories: Reconstructing Revolutionary Lexington in the Classroom
Fuhrer, Mary Babson
History Teacher, v42 n4 p497-506 Aug 2009
On an April morning in 1775, seventy-seven Lexington farmers took a stand on their town common and started a revolution. Generations of townspeople have honored these yeomen soldiers--the Battle of Lexington is re-enacted at dawn every April 19th--and generations of schoolchildren have learned the story of Lexington and Concord. Perhaps because of this heightened attention, the farm families of late colonial Lexington are well-documented in a range of primary sources: tax lists, probate inventories, account books, diaries, town meeting records, sermons, and newspapers preserve many details of daily life for ordinary people who happened to do an extraordinary thing. These primary sources offer students--from grade school to high school--an opportunity to revisit revolutionary Lexington. The National Heritage Museum (NHM) in Lexington probed these primary materials in preparing the museum's permanent exhibit on the events and meanings of April 19th. Research drew on the everyday records generated by living and dying, farming and trading, preaching and keeping the peace in a late colonial town. The story of farm and community life as seen through the reconstructed experience of ten families became the basis of the exhibit. In the summer of 2007, NHM hosted two teacher workshops--one for elementary and one for high school teachers--on ways to use these primary sources to recover a lost world. For elementary school teachers, the goal was to turn evidence into stories that would allow their students to imagine the lives of children from the past. For the final project, each of the teachers assumed the persona of a member of their study family and presented stories in narratives of perceived good and evil, difficult choices, and dramatic consequences. Teachers took back to their classrooms authentic stories of thirty Lexington children from 1775, so that their students could also assume the persona of real children from the past. High school teachers performed the same family and community reconstruction, but with a more critical emphasis on the reliability of evidence, assessing its inherent limitations and bias, acknowledging the "constructed" nature of historical interpretation, and drawing interpretations about motivation. Their goal was to gain a familiarity with their family that gave them the confidence to imagine hopes and fears in the spring of 1775, and to speculate as to why men took to the green on April 19th. This article illustrates that process using the family of John Parker, militia captain on the morning of April 19th, as a model. (Contains 27 notes.)
Society for History Education. California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Boulevard, Long Beach, CA 90840-1601. Tel: 562-985-2573; Fax: 562-985-5431; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A