Account Book of James Stewart’s General Store

by Gigi Liverant 
Colchester Historical Society, Colchester

TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT

Historical Background

In this activity students examine a sampler of pages from the account book of James Stewart’s general store located in Colchester, Connecticut, 1740.

D1: Potential Compelling Question

How do we trade goods and services?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS

  • How do we get things we need to live?
  • What resources were available in Colchester?
  • How was colonial life different/similar to life now?
  • How does Colchester contribute to Connecticut’s story?

D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson:




D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Using close-reading of the documents, have students generate a list of items one would purchase at James Stewart’s general store. Have the list shared among the students as each page contains different items.

  • How did people get to the general store?
  • What is the difference between these lists and their family shopping list?
  • What kind of currency are they using?
  • What are “sundry?”

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

  • Determine the differences between the credit and barter accounts. Ask students to give modern-day examples of credit and bartering in daily life. Where in their school do they make decisions like this?
  • Have a class simulation where students are given different “commodities” to trade or barter. Have four students sit out and each of these students represent a town commodity, such as, beaver hats, jack knives, sewing silk, or cotton handkerchiefs. One person can be the store owner. What would they trade or barter to get these new products? How would the store owner acquire new products?

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Place to GO
Things To DO
Websites to VISIT

For more information on credit versus barter and cash visit the Economic History Association website – EH.net: Credit in the Colonial American Economy

Articles to READ