The study of a nearby neighborhood provides special proximity to compensate in the teaching of social studies for the temporal distance so difficult for many students to comprehend. Thus, as a pedegogical tool, a local historical study, such as a study of Black Rock Harbor should stimulate the interest of my students and supply the materials necessary to develop the concepts and skills required by the ninth-grade curriculum I teach.
The theme of this unit is based upon the concept that New England’s pre-industrial prosperity was tied to shipping. As long as ships were small and the coastal and West Indian trade was lively, then Black Rock Harbor could share New England’s fortune.
But with the close of those trade routes and development of larger sailing ships as well as steam ships, Black Rock Harbor became a backwater. As New England’s wealth turned from shipping to industry, Black Rock Harbor’s fortunes declined. The Harbor’s history revolves around her geographic location and the technological changes which took place as America grew from a farm frontier to an industrial giant. The key concept to be developed is that of change. A place grows and changes constantly even if the change is undetected at the moment.