Using This Site with Your Class
The focus of the exhibition Within These Walls…
is a 2 ˝ story frame
house from Ipswich, Massachusetts and the stories of five families who made the
house their home. Covering five time periods from 1757-1945, this Web site
introduces historical evidence from the exhibition and shows not only how
historians researched this house, but also how you and your students can
research the built environment.
National Standards for U.S. History: This site covers Eras 2, 3, 4, 6, 8
Produced by Mass Interaction for grades 7-12, this three-part video series is
designed to teach students research skills, generate ideas for uncovering
historical evidence in students' own communities, neighborhoods, and families,
and to suggest ways they can write about their findings. These programs address
the national standards for writing and using original sources in research, and
have many applications for classes studying American history and the social
Program 1: May 15th. LIVE "virtual tour" of the original site in
Program 2: May 22nd. LIVE "virtual tour" of the Within These
Walls... exhibition at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American
History, Behring Center.
Program 3: May 29th. Discussion of the four types of historical evidence used by
the Smithsonian to reconstruct the past: documents, images, objects, and oral
Back in Time Web Activity
Designed for ages 10 and older, this web activity introduces students to the
Ipswich house and historical evidence relating to five families who lived in the
Students will be able to identify various types of primary sources used by
historians to study the past.
Students will also be able to describe life in each of the time periods, based
on their observations of these sources.
Have students go through the activity either individually or in pairs. The house
is presented as a time machine that transports students to five different
historical periods. Students must analyze the evidence to determine which time
period they have "landed" in. Each section includes historical
clues--objects, images and documents--to make the point that historians study
different types of historical evidence. Through class discussion or student
essays, have students describe what was most memorable or informative about the
activity and why. Additional activity: have students write a travel brochure for
other time travelers about their favorite time period.
National Standards for U.S. History: Eras 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, Standard 1:
Chronological Thinking, Standard 2: Historical Comprehension, Standard 3:
Historical Analysis and Interpretation
Finding History in Your Home
printable guide shows students how to research the place where they live and can
be used as a tool for individual or small group research.
Students will conduct research on their home or local building and will be able
to describe their research process and summarize their conclusions based on
analysis of the research.
Long or short-term project: Students should choose their home or a local
building and follow one or more of the research ideas in the guide. Depending
upon the amount of time available, a long-term project could include a more
in-depth investigation of a topic using several sections of this guide, while a
short-term project could focus on one section. A class trip to the local
courthouse or office of public records would give students firsthand experience
of historical research and enhance this activity.
National Standards for U.S. History: Eras chosen by student; Standard 2:
Historical Comprehension, Standard 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation;
Standard 4: Historical Research Capabilities
3. How Has Your Neighborhood or Community Changed?
built environment changes over time. The
town of Ipswich, Massachusetts is featured in this Web site. The neighborhood around Elm Street, where the house in the exhibition was
located, changed in many ways. This
activity encourages students to think about how and why the built environment
Students will be able to identify a map as a source of historical
Students compare two maps of the same area and identify several examples of
change over time.
Have students explore the Web site and time-machine activity. When they are
familiar with the five families who lived in the Ipswich house, begin with a
brief discussion of the Elm Street neighborhood in Ipswich, Massachusetts (refer
to historical background below). Ask students the following question:
- How do the five families that are featured in Within These Walls… reflect
the changes that took place in the Elm Street neighborhood?
After students have discussed how the neighborhood around Elm Street changed
over time, have them look at your school's neighborhood or a particular area of
your town or city. Contact your local historical society or courthouse about how
best to work with their organization to obtain copies of several maps of your
area from different time periods. Have your class analyze them and answer the
1. How did different neighborhoods change over time?
2. Where were the earliest settlements located? Why do you think they were
3. Did population and settlement patterns stay the same or change? How can you
Historical background for teachers:
Ipswich, Massachusetts was incorporated in 1633 and was named after Ipswich,
England in 1635. The town quickly built a mill, a place of worship and a burying
ground. The neighborhood around Elm Street in Ipswich, where the house in the
exhibition was located, gradually changed from relatively rural and higher
income when the Choates built the house in the 1760s, to an industrial district
with nearby factories on the river during the time that the Lynches and other
immigrants rented an apartment in the house in the 1870s.
National Standards for U.S. History: Eras will vary, Standard 1: Chronological
Thinking, Standard 2: Historical Comprehension, Standard 3: Historical Analysis
and Interpretation, Standard 5: Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making
4. Design a World War II Poster or
Posters helped communicate important government messages to the American public
during World War II, including Mary Scott and her family in Ipswich. This
activity emphasizes both the message and medium of posters created to promote
the war effort in the 1940s.
Students will be able to analyze the message and design of World War II era
posters and to use their observations to design their own poster.
Have students work in pairs or alone and analyze the posters from the
collections of the National Museum American History and the National Archives
available on the Web (links below). They should choose several posters and
consider both the message each poster is conveying and the method and design
used to convey the message. Then, students should identify and research a
specific need during World War II and design their own poster to communicate
that need. Or, have students choose a current local or national issue and create
a poster to address it. Finally, have the class discuss which historical posters
and student posters engaged them the most and why.
Historical background for teachers:
"World War II posters helped to mobilize a nation. Inexpensive, accessible,
and ever-present, the poster was an ideal agent for making war aims the personal
mission of every citizen. Government agencies, businesses, and private
organizations issued an array of poster images linking the military front with
the home front--calling upon every American to boost production at work and at
home. Wartime posters united the power of art with the power of advertising to
sell the idea that the factory and the home were also arenas of war."
- From Design for Victory: World War II Posters and the American Home Front,
by William L. Bird, Jr. and Harry R. Rubenstein. New York: Princeton
Architectural Press, 1998.
View poster images from the
National Museum of American
History and the National
National Standards for U.S. History: Era 8, Standard 2: Historical
Comprehension, Standard 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation, Standard 5:
Historical Issues-Analysis and Decision-Making