Grade 3 – Exploring Communities: Using Historic Maps to Learn about the Past


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Architecture, Environment, The State
Theme
Using Evidence to Learn About the Past
Town
Bridgeport, Canton, Danbury, East Haddam, Hartford, Killingly, Madison, New Haven, New London, NorwichThomaston, Vernon, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Map, Geography, Communities, Local History, Architecture, Landmarks, Insurance
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 3 – Connecticut & Local History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

Why do our communities look the way they do today?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS

In what ways has our community’s past shaped how it looks today?

How has geography affected our community over time?

How have science, technology, and innovation affected communities?

D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

An example of a Sanborn map titled Insurance maps of Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut by the Sanborn Map Company, 1904 -
An example of a Sanborn map titled Insurance maps of Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut by the Sanborn Map Company, 1904 – Yale University, Sterling Memorial Library, Connecticut Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Use the Yale University Library website–Connecticut Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps— to select and download a Sanborn fire insurance map to fit your teaching goals (you can look at the maps in your browser, but downloading the high-quality PDFs will enable students to make out more details).

You may choose just one map from your town or a nearby town, if you wish to focus on your own community, or select a few maps to show different types of environments—large cities, medium-sized towns, or smaller towns—if your focus is on urban, suburban, and rural communities. Note that many (but not all) Connecticut towns are represented in Sanborn maps. Here are a few samples from around the state:

Sanborn fire insurance maps were first published in 1867 to show how great a risk of fire there was in any town or city. The maps include all of the buildings in town, colored-coded to show what materials were used to build them (mostly “frame”/wood, brick, or stone). The maps also include important public buildings (government buildings, theaters, churches, schools, etc.), street names, and additional information. For larger cities, the maps take up several pages, like an atlas. For some communities, they are the most detailed maps available from the late 1800s to early 1900s. They are a great source of information about the past for historians–young and old!

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Using the Library of Congress’s Primary Source Analysis process, give students time to examine each of the maps you have selected, and ask them to OBSERVE, REFLECT, and QUESTION. For larger towns, you may want to start with the “title page” and then also look at a downtown detail page and one from farther outside the city center.

  1.  Observe: What do you notice first? What information does the map provide? What geographic elements are included? Which way is north/south/east/west and how do you know? Are there words on the map?
  2. Reflect: What do you think was important to the people who made this map? Does the map give us any clues about the time in which it was made? If you are familiar with this town today, what is the same and what is different? Or how is the town shown in this map similar to or different from your own?
  3. Question: What does this map make you wonder?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
  1. Imagining they are cartographers/map-makers, students will think about their own town and develop a list of all of the special places (public buildings, landmarks, public spaces, etc.) that should be included in a new map of town.
  2. Students will try their hand at making a map using rulers and graph paper. Making a map of the classroom is an easy project to start with; if your room has floor tiles, students can use those to mark out the dimensions on the graph paper.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Articles & Books to READ

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Grade 3 – Hartford: Then and Now

Map of Pioneer Hartford produced in 1927

by Laura Krenicki
William J. Johnston Middle School, Colchester


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Environment, Exploration and Discovery
Theme
Influence of Geography on the Social, Political, and Economic Development of CT Towns and the State
Town
Hartford, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Colonial, Hartford, Map, Pequot, Pioneer, Geography, Local History
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 3 – Connecticut & Local History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

In what ways has Hartford, Connecticut, changed and/or stayed the same over time? 

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How were local landmarks and neighborhoods named?
  • Why were specific individuals in your community honored through monuments or memorials, and how did they affect the history of your town, state, and country?
  • What historical events occurred in your town/city?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson (click on map for larger image).

The Map of Pioneer Hartford: Founded 1636, Incorporated 1784, Showing Early Landmarks and the Locations of Historical Events, ca. 1927 by James and Ruth Goldie - Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division
“The Map of Pioneer Hartford: Founded 1636, Incorporated 1784, Showing Early Landmarks and the Locations of Historical Events”, ca. 1927 by James and Ruth Goldie – Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division

The Map of Pioneer Hartford

Hartford, named after the English town of Hertford, was established in 1636. Though Rev. Thomas Hooker is credited with starting the English colony, there was already a Dutch settlement and Native American settlements in the same region. In fact, the state name Connecticut originates from the Mohegan word quonehtacut, meaning “place of long tidal river,” which runs alongside Hartford. This colonial map of Hartford shows how different cartographers (map makers) view space and place. Here, you’ll notice there are few streets, but there are landmarks and family names.

"Hartford Settlement, 1636" map created from two separate maps, originally published in The Colonial History of Hartford by Rev. William DeLoss Love, 1811, on the website Kenyon Street: Hartford's West End.
“Hartford Settlement, 1636” map created from two separate maps, originally published in The Colonial History of Hartford by Rev. William DeLoss Love, 1811, on the website Kenyon Street: Hartford’s West End.

Hartford Settlement, 1636

There are several Native American references on the map. Can your students spot them all? Several groups of Native Peoples lived in the Hartford area, and they have a strong cultural heritage in our state (For more info: Pequot Museum). In fact, many Native Peoples died when Europeans settled in the area because of exposure to new diseases. Using the CDC.gov website, have students find areas of the world requiring immunizations for travelers. Why are immunizations important?

University of Connecticut's, Map and Geographic Information Center - Hartford, CT Historical Places Map Mash-up
University of Connecticut’s, Map and Geographic Information Center – Hartford, CT: Historical Places Map Mash-up

Mash-up map

Over time, more maps were made of Hartford and more details were added as the community grew larger. In the upper left corner of the map is a drop-down menu. Choose one of the maps in the drop-down menu to compare to the map listed above. What questions do you have about the two maps? For more information, you may wish to check out this website: Map of the Week! #3 Hartford in 1640 and 1893

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Have students notice how the map is oriented.

  • Which way is north?
  • How can they tell?
  • Which way does the Connecticut River flow?

The founding of Hartford was dependent on the Connecticut River.

  • Why was the river so important then?
  • How is it important to Hartford now?

For further consideration:

  • How important is scale on a map?
  • If they were to use this Pioneer Map of Hartford, how close would things seem?
  • How might this be misleading if students were going to walk from Soldier’s Field to West Field?
  • How did these places get their names?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Have students create a personal map from their house to your school. Have students ask their families to see how their community has changed over time.

As a class discussion, consider these questions:

  • What things would you think are important to include in your map?
  • What details or landmarks would you include in your map and what would you leave off?
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ