Lesson 3: “The People of Lawrence, Massachusetts”

Created by UMass Lowell graduate student/Methuen High School social studies teacher Stephanie Turmel under the supervision of UMass Distinguished Professor of History Robert Forrant and Lawrence History Center staff (2019).

Unit Plan #1: The Immigrant City

Lesson 3: “The People of Lawrence, Massachusetts”

Lesson Summary: Students will explore primary sources, including city directories, to learn about the people who lived in the city of Lawrence.

Learning Objective(s):

  • Students will analyze the directory pages & collect information on a specific family.
  • Students will make inferences about how life may have changed for a particular person of family over time

Lesson Overview:

  1. Opener/ Warm Up: Students will answer two questions to prepare for class discussion on City Directory Research Sheet (Resource #8) Note: This resource will also be used for research activity.
    • Teacher Introduction: “Today we will be completing research about Lawrence by researching information about the people who lived there. To find this information we will be exploring the City Directory pages over a span of ten year to make inferences about one family throughout these years.”
    • Historical Context of City Directory
      *Teacher may share City Directory information (below) on board/ slideshow or present orally to students.

    City Directory Information Sheet What is a City Directory? Before the telephone directory there was the city directory, which is a book that listed the names, addresses,professions of adult residents in a particular town or city. The Lawrence History Center has a city directory for nearly every year in their collection, ranging from years 1847- 2004.

  2. Family Research Activity: City Directory Research Sheet (Resource #8)

    Prep: Print out and make copies of the following materials:

    Note: Pages include an abbreviations page from the City Directory to assist students with understanding information.

    Directions: Using the directory pages, students will follow one family “The Golden Family” throughout the years. Students may work individually or in small groups to make observations and inferences and complete a research page.

  3. Summative Assignment: Writing Prompt
    Students will use what they learned about the Golden Family to write a letter between two family members about something that may have impacted their life.