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Lesson Purpose

A lesson challenging students to analyze primary and secondary sources to answer the question How many enslaved individuals named Grace, Isaac, and Suckey were there at Mount Vernon from 1750-1799? Using information available to researchers and scholars at the Washington Library, students become historians as they work to answer a question that has no definitive answer. As an optional extension, students can create a biography about one of the individuals identified in their research. 

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Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will use primary and secondary sources to learn about life as an enslaved person at Mount Vernon.
  • Students will evaluate primary sources to make a claim about historical evidence and (optional extension) create a secondary source about an enslaved individual at Mount Vernon.
  • Students will work in teams on a project that does not have a definitive final answer.

Related Standards:

  • Research and Evidence Based Analysis
  • Revolution and the New Nation
  • Working in Teams
  • Communicating
  • Application of Knowledge through higher-order thinking skills
  • Reading Standards in Technical Subjects
  • Analyze how people’s perspectives influenced what information is available in the historical sources they created
  • Evaluate the relevancy and utility of a historical source based on information such as maker, date, place of origin, intended audience, and purpose
  • Develop claims and counterclaims while pointing out strengths and limitations of both.

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