Gender and Opportunity in Colonial America

What was life like for women in Colonial America? What restrictions were placed upon them and what opportunities were they afforded? A case study of Elizabeth Murray offers high schoolers a chance to investigate primary source documents that reveal the attitudes and mores that defined the roles of US women in mid-eighteenth century.

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CCSS: Adaptable
Instructional Ideas

  • Some class members may find the syntax and diction in the primary source documents confusing; therefore, develop worksheets with text-based questions to help readers analyze the documents
  • If enough computers are available, have pairs read the primary source documents online and collaborate to respond to text-based questions
Classroom Considerations

  • Due to the complexity of the site, set aside some prep time to practice navigating the site, exploring the materials, and selecting the documents appropriate for your teaching situation
  • The activity presumes class members have experience analyzing primary source materials
  • Include in a study of Colonial America or as part of a lesson during Women's History Month

  • The site includes historical background information, links to a wealth of primary source documents, teacher materials, and assessments

  • No reading guides are provided for the primary source documents
Common Core