In selecting three lesson plans to elaborate upon, I have attempted to include a variety of experiences which will develop different aspects of the unit’s objectives. Although there is obvious overlapping, different academic skills are also developed in each.
Subject Matter Area Social Studies: Map Work
Vocabulary Compass rose, continent, colony
Ability to recognize maps of early New Haven (1641 and 1748) and to identify changes in them.
Understanding of the geographic relationship of New Haven to Connecticut, the United States, North America, and the World.
Ability to map out a portion of some New Haven neighborhood.
Despite years of exposure, I am constantly surprised that my pupils have so little awareness of basic geographic locations. I am equally amazed how quickly and eagerly most improve their ability to use and understand a map. As a result, I think it necessary at a very early point to establish the location of New Haven in relationship to Connecticut, the United States, North America, and the World. Otherwise I can easily imagine going through the entire unit and discovering some pupils still lacking this understanding. Also, since one of my main objectives is for pupils to see themselves as part of an historical whole, I think the same should be true of their ability to see their place in the larger geographical picture.
The means of establishing an understanding of these geographical relationships is probably best left to the judgment of the individual teacher using the appropriate maps and activities suited to the particular class.
Once the understanding has been established, maps of New Haven Colony as part of Connecticut and those showing the physical lay-out of early New Haven will have more meaning to pupils. There are a number of copies of these early maps available, but the clearest that I have seen are found in Shunway and Hegel’s “New Haven: An Illustrated History.” There are three I would present for discussion as we cover the colony’s beginning days: the Brockett map of 1641, the three separate geographic areas of 1656, and the plan of the town in 1748 including buildings.
I think that exact questions for discussion should grow from the individual teacher and his/her group’s responses but should aim to highlight the physical plan and possible reasons it was chosen, the importance of the Green and what was placed upon it, how this area of the city appears to have changed in the first hundred years, and finally, ways in which this area has changed and/or is similar today.
I would then have the class map a portion of the area around the school. This would be done together under my guidance and would lead to an individual assignment in which each pupil would map a portion of her/his neighborhood including streets and structures in a manner similar to the 1748 map.
Depending on circumstances, an ambitious group might decide to map the area around the Green for comparison and discussion.
Subject Matter Area Social Studies
Increased knowledge and appreciation of contributions made by New Haven African Americans, past and present.
Ability to compile and present biographical material on New Haven African Americans, past and present.
One way of discovering the positives occurring within the African American community throughout New Haven’s history is to examine the contributions made by its various members. There are a variety of books and pamphlets (see bibliography) available which chronicle these accomplishments. Additional material may also be found at the African and New Haven Historical Societies.
Towards the unit’s conclusion, when pupils have a fairly clear picture of the historical past, I would ask each pupil to research two or three African Americans who have played a note-worthy role in New Haven’s history. It seems best to have pupils make their own selections if possible. After a few days of preparation, with the appropriate guidance, the material gathered on each individual would be presented as a report to the entire class with follow-up discussion as needed. It is important that pupils are clear where each person falls chronologically in the city’s history.
As an example of how such an investigation should enhance pupils’ understanding of related historical events while at the same time helping to establish a feeling of pride in the accomplishments of African Americans from the past, I shall briefly examine the life of Edward Bouchet, illustrating how these goals might be achieved.
Born in 1852, Edward Bouchet was to become the first African American to earn a Ph.D. degree in the United States. Edward’s father had come to New Haven in 1824 as the servant of John B. Robertsen, of Charleston, South Carolina, who was entering his freshman year at Yale. The elder Bouchet remained in New Haven when Edward was born.
Edward’s first school experiences were at Sally Wilson’s Artisan Street Colored School, one of the primary-level “colored schools” which were first established in 1811. These were charity schools which also received special allotments from state funds. They were privately operated, primarily by women reformers. It was not until 1869 that the Board of Education incorporated African American students into the New Haven Public School System.
Despite the generally inadequate physical conditions and rudimentary curriculum existing in these “colored schools”, Bouchet then entered and graduated from Hopkins Grammar School, before enrolling at Yale, five years after the Civil War’s end. These achievements were made despite the fact that the War had not brought much improvement to the everyday life of New Haven African Americans.
At Yale, Bouchet became a member of Phi Beta Kappa and eventually the college’s first Black graduate. He went on to graduate school, where he studied science and in 1876 became the first African American to receive a Ph.D. in the United States. Most of his life was devoted to improving education in Philadelphia and working as a dedicated member of the N.A.A.C.P. In 1918, he died in his home on Bradley Street and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery.
This information was taken primarily from the works of Shumway and Osterweis but is touched upon in most histories of New Haven. Shumway’s text contains an excellent photograph, and “New Haven’s Afro-American Heritage” pictures one of the early “colored schools.” (See bibliography.)
As should be apparent, an examination of Bouchet’s life by pupils not only reveals the individual accomplishments and triumphs of this man, but also places them in their historical setting, making both more meaningful to pupils. Further development might include an investigation of Mary Goodman, the African American woman who, while Bouchet was a student at Yale, left her property to establish a scholarship for black students in the Yale Divinity School.
Below, I am including a short list of suggested people from the many possible subjects, together with a very brief statement on some aspect of each person’s contributions.
After these reports have been presented, I would then ask pupils to research at least one African American who is living in New Haven but who has not gained the same prominence as those just studied but whom the pupil considers a positive, contributing member of our city. Subjects might be relatives, family friends, neighbors, church members or people connected with the schools. The results of this research would be presented in the same manner. I would encourage the use of interviews, tapings, photographs, or even a visit by the individual being researched.
When all reporting is completed, subjects should be placed chronologically into categories based upon the area of their contributions. (For some individuals there will be more than one.) The list could be expanded to include other individuals whose accomplishments are known. Categories might vary some but should include politics, education, civic leadership, economic development, religion, and sports. In this way, pupils should be able to more clearly see the variety and range of African American contributions throughout New Haven’s history. Hopefully the inclusion of people with whom pupils are personally familiar will demonstrate the existence of positives on a more intimate level, encouraging positives in the pupil him/herself.