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In the Classroom > Course Overview > Unit Overview
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Lesson 6: Deerfield Debates its Future: What Constitutes Progress?

Lesson Central Question:

In This Lesson:

Is progress desirable in all aspects of the community?

Lesson Length
Key Ideas

Lesson Length

1 class period (85 minutes)

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Key Content Ideas Taught in this Lesson and Teacher/Student Background

Deerfield's trolley debate brought to the fore different views about the direction in which the community should go. Conflicting economic, social, and aesthetic views divided the community.

Teacher/Student Backgrou nd Essay: (not available yet)

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Intended Learning Outcomes

Students will understand:

  • There are many resources that one can use to learn about a community.
  • The Colonial Revival movement flourished during this period.
  • Industry and technology reshaped life in Deerfield and the Connecticut River Valley.
  • The expansion of communication and transportation impacted the daily lives of people in Deerfield and the Connecticut River Valley.

Students will be able to:

  • Analyze a variety of images and documents;
  • Make inferences from their readings and articulate causality;
  • Present learned information to their peers;
  • Locate historical evidence on a website to support their presentations;
  • Create artifacts to archive, such as a newspaper, an album, or scrapbook, from their writings, drawings, and projects.

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In Preparation for Teaching

1. Read Teacher/Student Background (not available yet)

Further Background Reading:
Stilgoe, John. Metropolitan Corridor: Railroads and the American Scene. New Haven: Yale UP, 1983.

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Primary and Secondary Sources:

Unless otherwise noted, all can be found on the American Centuries website.
  1. Deerfield Inn and Trolley (1996.12.2656.01-.02)
  2. Trolley Car (1996.12.0368.01-.04)
  3. Mt. Sugarloaf and Trolley (1997.08.01.0024)
  4. Cars at Open House (1997.01.14)
  5. Diary of Elsie Putnam, a schoolteacher who rode the train every day. (L02.001)
  6. Madeline Wynn ("People & Places" on this web site)
  7. Emma Coleman ("People & Places" on this web site)
  8. Pratt and industry (L02.154, L02.155, L02.156)
  9. Sheldon and history (Letters on website -- search the Digital Collection using the Assisted Search Page. Combine Exact Phrase: "trolley" with Item Type: "legal documents." Students should also search Exact Phrase: "George Sheldon" combined with Item Type: "Personal Documents.")
  10. Flowers, Kelsey "Deerfield Gave Warm Reception for Trolley" (L02.167)
  11. Trolley Debate Rubric (not available yet)

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Activities Materials in Context

Using the American Centuries website, explore the topics of "transportation" and "communication" in the Connecticut River Valley. Use the Assisted Search page in the Digital Collection section and limit the search to the 1870-1930 time period.

1. The Trolley Debate

  • Divide class into four groups. Two groups get the Sheldon article and two groups the Pratt article.
  • Students prepare to debate the topic -- "Is the continuing development of industry the best route toward the economic and social well-being for Old Deerfield?" -- according to debating protocol.
  • Students may make placards, invite "experts," prepare "position" ads for the newspaper to influence their position.
  • In the debate, consideration may include the following:
  • Government
    Health and welfare
    What would the development of industry do to people's lifestyle?
    What would it do to the local economy?
    Address the issue from a gender perspective

  • After the debate, remnants of the supporting information, a news article or digital images, may be set aside for the collection to be added to the newspaper, scrapbook, or photograph album.


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