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Chronological Reasoning and Causation

Then and Now: Rural Life in New York

  1. Load Filling a Silo, 1912 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Loading Hay onto a Hay Wagon, Salem, NY, 1913 in Main Image Viewer
  3. Load Diary of Fannie Jane Roberts, 1902 in Main Image Viewer
  4. Load Diary of Fannie Jane Roberts, 1902 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Topics: Rural life in 1902

Skills: Interpret information from text and photographs, Compare/contrast

This document describes agricultural life in the early 1900s, depicts what farms of that time period looked like, and describes farming practices and daily life.

Historical Context: This 1902 excerpt from Fannie Roberts’ diary (1886-1967) provides a glimpse of rural life in Bloomville, Delaware County, from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl. Diaries provide valuable insight into the day to day life of individuals. Diaries are often found in historical societies, libraries, with municipal historians, and in personal or family historical record collections. This excerpt from Fannie Roberts’ diary is courtesy of Elva G. Meyer and the Delaware County Historical Association, Delhi, New York.

Essential Question: How does this diary entry depict rural life in Bloomville in 1902?

Transcription: Monday, December 1, 1902:  I went to school, rode down with a fellow by the name of L. Perryham he had carried Mr. D. L. Palmer up as far as our house, and when he went back I went out and rode down as far as Uncle Emmett’s with him.  They are going to butcher (hogs) today and papa is too, just as we were ready to go to school they brought out one of the hogs.  I didn’t see them stick the hog but I saw it after it had got up.  Eugene Every and D. Brownell helped papa.  They killed three.

Document Analysis:

Group Discussion Questions: Use the diary entries to answer the following:

1)      Describe why Fannie would have ridden with different people to school.

2)      What methods were used to butcher animals and where would they keep them?

3)      Compare the rural lifestyle described by Fannie to 21st-century farming methods used today.

1)      Introduce the historical background information about life in rural 1902 by displaying photographs and describing agricultural methods.
2)      Students should be given a copy of the diary, photographs, and Diaries worksheet.
3)      Teacher will pair up students into partnerships.  One student will be responsible for researching farming methods of the 21st century while another student will be using a diary and photographs to describe 20th-century agriculture.
4)      Each set of students will work together to complete the ‘Diaries’ worksheet and compare/contrast farming and agriculture in Upstate, NY.
5)      Students will team with another set of partners for a 15-minute discussion group.  They will compare their answers to essential questions on the ‘Diaries’ worksheet.
6)      Teacher will end the discussion and re-direct students to compare/contrast note-taking on agricultural methods.
7)      Each student will take notes either about the primary document and 21st-century farming methods for up to 10 minutes. 
8)      Teacher will review comparison paragraph expectations (using paragraph example).
9)      Students will begin writing a comparison paragraph response about how farming and agricultural methods changed from the early 20th century to modern 21st-century methods.

Optional Extension Activity
The following activity could be completed in order to extend students’ thinking and encourage them to make connections:
Instruct students to begin writing their own diaries for the next five days. Have them include information about their daily lives much as Fannie did. If someone found their diary 100 years from now, what would they want to tell people of the future about a student’s life today? Share, collect and keep in a school time capsule.
How will the permanence of Facebook, blogs, etc. leave a lasting memorial to life in the 21st century? People of the future will have easy access to our ideas and concerns. How is this similar or different from finding a diary from 1902? Write some ideas, then share your thoughts during a class discussion.


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