Activity 1: What Is an American?
Students write a paragraph answering the question "What is an American?
Activity 2: Being an American in 1782
- Introduce Crèvecoeur's "What Is an American?".
- Discussion question: What does Crèvecoeur's piece tell us about late 18th century America?
Activity 3: Life Histories as Historical Sources
- Introduce oral histories as primary sources
- Read Using Primary Sources and discuss concepts with students as necessary.
- Introduce students to American Life Histories, 1936-1940, in American Memory.
- Students read American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940.
Activity 4: Finding a Life History
- Give Instructions:
- How to search in American Memory. See How to Search American Memory Collections.
- Keyword development: class brainstorms occupations.
- Students search for a life history by occupation.
- Students record their search.
- Students look at their life history through the lens of Crèvecoeur definition using What Is an American? Student Guide.
Activity 5: Making a Biography
Students produce a single page biography. [Sample Biography]
Activity 6: Sharing Life History and Drawing Conclusions
- Oral presentations by students.
- Each student adds name to wall map.
- Class charts lives by Crèvecoeur's categories.
- Class discusses how the meaning of being an American had changed.
- Students write a paragraph on how the definition has changed.
- (Optional) Teacher compiles biographies "What Is an American?"