HS – Is That a Mastodon?! A Case Study in Civic Responsibility

Hill-Stead workers and overseer Allen Cook, ca. 1913

by Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington, CT


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Science, Historic Preservation, Exploration and Discovery
Theme
Civic Engagement
Town
Farmington, Washington, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Archaeology, Ice Age, Mastodon, Local History, Civic Duty, Historic Preservation, Debate
Social Studies Frameworks
High School – Civics and Government

Historical Background
In 1913 a mastodon skeleton was accidentally discovered on the grounds of the Pope estate (Hill-Stead) in Farmington, Connecticut. This activity takes that historic event as inspiration for a classroom debate based on a fictional case study and a discussion about civic responsibility and preservation.

D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

To what extent are we, as citizens and communities, responsible for scientifically and/or historically significant finds on public property?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How do we best preserve animal remains such as dinosaurs, Ice Age animals, and other animal specimens, which are not affiliated with any particular group of people?
  • Who should be responsible for the physical and financial maintenance of these specimens?
  • What is our responsibility to ensure finite resources, such as the skeletons of extinct animals, are available for future generations?
  • To what extent is the discussion different if the find is a man-made artifact rather than a natural specimen?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

For Part I: Debate

page Download the Perspectives for Debate pdf
Mastadon skeleton on display
Mastodon skeleton on display at the Institute for American Indian Studies.

For Part II: The Pope Hill-Stead Mastodon

Museum men with Hill-Stead helpers, overseer Allan Cook
“Museum men with Hill-Stead helpers, overseer Allan Cook in lower right,” ca. September, 1913 – Institute for American Indian Studies

 

Yale-Peabody Preparator Mr. Darby posing with the tibia and fibula
Yale-Peabody Preparator Mr. Darby posing with the tibia and fibula articulated together, ca. 1913 – Institute for American Indian Studies

 

Hill-Stead workers and overseer Allen Cook, ca. 1913
Hill-Stead workers and overseer Allen Cook (far right), ca. 1913. Worker on far left is holding the left humerus. The mandible is resting on a barrel in the center. Worker next to Mr. Cook is holding the second vertebra from the skull, axis – Institute for American Indian Studies

 

Yale-Peabody Preparator Mr. Darby wrapping a bone in plaster before transport
Yale-Peabody Preparator Mr. Darby wrapping a bone in plaster before transport to New Haven, CT, ca. 1913 – Institute for American Indian Studies
D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Part I: Debate

This activity involves a debate around the following fictional scenario. A complete mastodon skeleton has been unearthed in your town, on town-owned property, and a decision must be made as to who will care for it and where it will be stored. There are parameters which must be met in order to properly maintain the condition of the mastodon.

  • The bones are very large and will require a considerable amount of storage space, roughly 300 square feet. An image of a mastodon skeleton on display is included in the toolkit to give students a sense of the size of these bones and the space that they take.
  • It is important to note that these are bones and not fossils. The bones must be kept at a consistent temperature and humidity level to prevent cracking and slow decomposition.
  • The bones must be covered to prevent dust or debris from entering any cracks or imperfections within the bones, which would cause the cracks/imperfections to enlarge.
  • Each bone must be periodically examined and checked for any developing deterioration, which would need to be addressed by qualified professionals as soon as possible, or the bones will begin to decay.

Since the remains were found on town land, they belong to the town, and the town must decide what to do with them. Students will research and argue a variety of viewpoints (See Perspectives for Debate document) in a town meeting-style debate. The goal of this activity is to have students decide on the best course of action, knowing that the specimen will require continual maintenance and monitoring in order to preserve it indefinitely and that this will have an impact on town resources.

There are two options for setting up the debate:

Option 1) Assign students to specific roles that they will research and represent in a town hall-style debate, with the goal of convincing a majority of the class to vote on a specific course or plan of action.

Option 2) Assign students to specific roles, but have another class act as town members in a town hall-style debate. At the end of this debate the “town members” will vote on the course of action they found the most convincing.

Part II: The Pope Hill-Stead Mastodon

The second part of this activity involves an exploration of the true historical incident that inspired the fictional debate, the accidental discovery in 1913 of a mastodon skeleton on the grounds of the Pope estate (Hill-Stead) in Farmington, Connecticut. A selection of historic photographs from the excavation and a short history of the Pope Hill-Stead mastodon are included in the toolkit above. After familiarizing themselves with the Pope Hill-Stead case, students will discuss how finding a mastodon skeleton in 1913 might have been different than finding one today and what questions are raised if a specimen is discovered on private property, rather than public property.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Cultural preservation has taken many different forms over the course of our history. At one time, private individuals had almost free rein to collect and/or display objects of interest in whatever way they saw fit. The struggle between what is considered “progress” and safeguarding the past often pitts developers against preservationists. The rights of Native Americans to retain their cultural material (including human remains) was not officially recognized until the later part of the 20th century. There is now a growing understanding, however, that multiple perspectives need to be considered when making decisions about preserving our diverse history and culture.

Have students investigate two federal laws in place for the protection of cultural materials in the United States: the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990.

Federal law does not currently address the preservation of extinct animals, such as the mastodon in this case study. Using what they have learned through this activity and their investigations of the two existing federal laws, have students draft a letter to a legislator arguing whether or not animal specimens should be protected by preservation laws as well.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles & Books to READ

HS – Connecticut Women and the Women’s Suffrage Movement

Suffragists

TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Social Movements, Women
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Town
Hartford, Norwalk, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Women’s Rights, Suffrage, Isabella Beecher Hooker, Voting, Reform Movements, Politics, Anti-Suffrage Movement, 19th Amendment
Social Studies Frameworks
High School – United States History

Historical Background
The National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) argued that together the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution actually guaranteed women the right to vote, but the idea was rejected by the Supreme Court in the 1870s, leading to the push for an all new amendment securing women’s right to vote. The proposed Nineteenth Amendment passed the House on May 21, 1919, and the Senate on June 4, 1919. Both Connecticut senators voted against the amendment. Thirty-six state legislatures needed to ratify the amendment; the last of these did so August 18, 1920. Connecticut did not ratify the legislation until September 14, 1920, after the Nineteenth Amendment had already gone into effect.

D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

How have American concepts of freedom and equality changed since the 1870s?

How might the changes be perceived differently by different segments of the population?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • Who had the right to vote in the United States in 1870?
  • What strategies or arguments did supporters of women’s suffrage use to win the right to vote?
  • Are the voting rights of traditionally under-represented groups protected in contemporary America?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Declaration and pledge of the women of the United States
“Declaration and pledge of the women of the United States concerning their right to, and their use of the elective franchise.” Isabella Beecher Hooker, 1871 – Connecticut Historical Society

In 1871 Isabella Beecher Hooker, an advocate for women’s rights from Hartford, Connecticut, organized the convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association in Washington D.C. This document was written and signed the same year.

page

 

Download a transcription of the document – pdf

 

You may wish to add one or more of the following photographs to your inquiry investigation:

Arrest of White House pickets
Arrest of White House pickets Catherine Flanagan of Hartford, Connecticut (left), and Madeleine Watson of Chicago (right), August 1917 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Records of the National Woman’s Party

 

helenaweed_loc275034r
Helena Hill Weed, Norwalk, Conn. Serving 3 day sentence in D.C. prison for carrying banner, “Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,” 1917 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Records of the National Woman’s Party

 

Party members picketing the Republican convention
Party members picketing the Republican convention, Chicago, June 1920 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division
D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Using SOAPSTone analysis, the Library of Congress Analyzing Primary Sources process, or another method of your choice, have students investigate the “Declaration and pledge of the women of the United States concerning their right to, and their use of the elective franchise.”

  • Who created this document?
  • Who was the intended audience?
  • When and where was it created?
  • What was going on in the country at the time?
  • What was the context?
  • What is the subject matter?
  • Which sentences or phrases particularly stand out?
  • What arguments are being made?
  • What does this document make you wonder?

Discuss the questions raised by the document and help students shape them into stronger questions to guide further inquiry. Discuss what sources (both primary and secondary) might help students learn more.

You may then choose to introduce one or more of the later photographs listed above into your inquiry, following investigation of the document. Use a similar process of OBSERVING, REFLECTING, and QUESTIONING to guide students’ exploration and analysis (Download Library of Congress teacher guide – PDF or student worksheet – PDF).

Together the document and photographs can help students develop a richer response to the supporting question above (“What strategies or arguments did supporters of women’s suffrage use to win the right to vote?”), as well as to the compelling question.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

1) Students will use historic Connecticut newspapers available through the Connecticut State Library Digital Collection or Chronicling America, as well as other primary-source materials found online, to learn more about the arguments posed by both the suffrage and anti-suffrage movements in the early 1900s and the reaction to these arguments in the media. Students will then imagine themselves in 1919 and write a letter to the editor of one of the Connecticut newspapers advocating a position based on evidence gleaned from various primary sources of the time.

Additional sets of primary sources relating to national women’s suffrage can be found at:

2) Students will research contemporary voter registration and voter turnout data and create a video, billboard design, or social media campaign encouraging a target audience (which they will identify) to register and vote.

Here are a few online resources that are available:

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO

Grade 8 – The Black Law in Connecticut

ConnecticutHistory.org


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Education, Slavery & Abolition, Politics & Government
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Town
Canterbury, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Prudence Crandall, Education, Law, Women
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 8 – United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

What is social justice?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • What was the Black Law? How did it affect Prudence Crandall’s school?
  • What did Prudence Crandall do to break this law?
  • Was it possible for Prudence Crandall to fight this law? Why or why not?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

“The Black Law of Connecticut (1833).” Citizens ALL: Africans Americans in Connecticut - The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, & Abolition, Yale University
“The Black Law of Connecticut (1833).” Citizens ALL: Africans Americans in Connecticut – The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, & Abolition, Yale University

What later became known as the “Black Law” was enacted to prevent “the instruction of colored persons belonging to other states and countries, which would tend to the great increase of the colored population of the State, and thereby to the injury of the people.”  This law was in response to Prudence Crandall’s establishment of a school to educate African American girls in Canterbury, Connecticut.

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY
  • What does “inequality” mean to you? How may people be treated unequally?
  • What would you have done if you were Prudence Crandall in 1833? How would you have handled the injustices?
  • How would you go about letting others know about unfair laws?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
  • Brainstorm things happening in your community that you consider wrong, unjust, unfair, or unkind. Decide as a class to take on one of those injustices and find appropriate solutions.
  • Research the education of girls in other parts of the world. Are girls receiving an equal education to boys? Is this a result of local laws?
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ

Grade 5 – Charter Oak: A Symbol of Independence

by Laura Krenicki
William J. Johnston Middle School, Colchester


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Politics & Government
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Town
Hartford, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Charter Oak, Independence, England, Colonial, Government, Connecticut Colony
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 5 – Early United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

How would you protect your freedoms?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • What is the significance of Connecticut’s contribution to America’s story?
  • How were the beginnings of a national identity created by colonies with very different purposes and varied governmental and economic systems?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Charles De Wolf Brownell, View of the Charter Oak, Hartford,  oil on canvas - The Wadsworth Atheneum and Connecticut History Illustrated
Charles De Wolf Brownell, View of the Charter Oak, Hartford, oil on canvas – The Wadsworth Atheneum and Connecticut History Illustrated

As a colony of England and English rule, Connecticut originally did not have any rights to govern themselves or even to make local laws. In 1662, King Charles II wrote a charter granting Connecticut the right to elect local leaders and even to create laws. The “Connecticut Charter” became an issue when King Charles II died and his brother, James II became the next king. James II didn’t want the Connecticut colony to have that much autonomy, so in 1667 he sent an ambassador, Sir Edmond Andros, to recall the charter.ConnecticutQuarter

During an interesting turn of events, in which colonist leaders and Andros met to debate the charter, the candles in the room suddenly went out. When order was restored, the charter, which had been on the table between the parties, was missing. It had been hidden in the trunk of a white oak tree so that it would be safe from Andros.

The Charter Oak became a symbol of American independence. Today, the image of the Charter Oak is commemorated on the Connecticut state quarter.

 

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Write the following question-focus statement on the board:

The legend of the Charter Oak is the story of our independence.

Have students generate questions, in small groups, to reflect on this statement. Narrow the list down to closed questions (ones that have a definite answer) and open questions (inquiry). Have students chose one or two to research.

Have students consider:

  • How might the history of the United States have turned out if the charter had not been taken?
  • Why did James II decide to take the charter back after his brother, Charles II, had issued it to the colonies?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Have students take the sides of the colonists and the English ambassadors and create a reenactment of the events. What would have been discussed? What would have happened if the ambassadors had taken the charter?

The Connecticut state flag does not contain the Charter Oak. Create a new design for the state flag that would include this iconic image.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO