Erik Barnouw, House with a Past
"This is a detailed narrative about an owner’s search during the 1950s into the history of an old stone house in Benson, Vermont. Ultimately Barnouw finds historical evidence for a connection between the building and the establishment in the 1830s of the first Mormon congregation in New England. Along the way the reader learns about the town, the times and the social and religious history of that geographic area.
The fact that it’s something like a mystery makes it easy reading for adults and high school students. The writer’s style is engaging. It contains maps, photographs, and diagrams and could serve as a resource for a high school research project. It could also serve as an inspiration for research into unusual local buildings by students or a whole class."
"I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very easy to read and the topic was interesting. This book brings to light the impact that a few (27) individuals had on an entire church and its development.
I think that this book could be read by an upper grade middle school student. It does have some primary documents within the text that a student could use. The entire text is based on primary documents within the text that a student could use. The entire text is based on primary documents. It could be used to indicate the impact the primary documents have in helping us to rewrite the past.
The important points about Vermont history are related to the role of Mormons in southern Vermont, the development of a religious group that would have tremendous impact on the organization of the Mormons during their trek across the country.
The story begins with the purchase of a stone house for $85.00 and then to the purchase of the land that the house sits on. It continues with Erik, a professor at Columbia, delving into the origins of the building and its place within the Benson community. The book takes us through the history of the Mormon religion in the state of Vermont and then across the country. Vermonters were key individuals within the Mormon Church and their roles are identified."
6.5 Traditional and Social Histories
Students investigate both the traditional and the social histories of the people, places, and cultures under study, including those of indigenous peoples. This is evident when students identify and analyze the influence of various groups on major issues and events under study.
6.8 Movements and settlements
Students analyze the factors and implications associated with the historical and contemporary movements and settlements.
"This book is easy, accessible reading for high school and middle school students. The fact that it’s short is also a feature that makes it useful. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the search process the family went through to find out about the early inhabitants of their house. As a model of a research process it is a great source, as well as being informative about its subject.
Tracing the "secret" of the group of Mormons who left Benson in the early 1800s made the story read like a mystery. The connection with the Mormons was a good one for research in terms of having records available to trace families. The persecution of the Mormons on their search for a homeland, particularly in Missouri, was a point of interest."
Phil Elwert, “All Around Robinson’s Barn,” Vermont History News, Vol. 36, #5, (Nov - Dec 1985): 125-139.
"This is actually a pamphlet that I think middle school students could read with a study guide to go along with it so students are sure to pick up the important components of the article. It provides some basic understanding of the farming economy and its progression over the years. It is straightforward and fact-driven. I liked the connection to the role of women in the farm community. Seth Hubbell’s narrative is also documented in this reading. It could be a good primary source for students to use in the understanding of life on a farm in the 1700-1800s. Vermont Standards: 6.9, 6.9d; 6.17, a, b"
"This is wonderful! The reprint is 14 pages long and in that short a space, Elwert, who was the Vermont Historical Society’s museum curator, is able to give a sprightly and comprehensive overview of farms of the 1760s, through the wheat boom and the sheep boom, to the rise of dairy farming in the mid-19th century. Elwert’s background essay also features some of the historical woodcuts, engravings, drawings and advertisements that were part of the "All Around Robinson’s Barn" museum exhibit.
This is great background material for all teachers of Vermont history and could provide research material for students from middle school up."
"The article gives a good overview of Vermont farming trends and the reasons they failed or succeeded. The article could be useful as a general overview of Vermont agriculture for high school students and for middle school students with pre-reading preparation (e.g. vocabulary and key concepts to look for). Sources quoted and found in bibliography could be helpful for additional materials. Important points covered were the world, national, and economic forces that caused changes in Vermont farming. The photos, flyers and inventions pictured were excellent and would be of interest to students at all levels."
Nancy Price Graff, ed., Celebrating Vermont: Myths and Realities
"I read only those essays and catalog items that related to this time period. This is definitely a book that I will read in its entirety when the opportunity presents itself.
This book could be used in a high school history class. I think that middle school children would have a tough time reading this on their own but it is filled with a wealth of information about the history of Vermont. Perhaps you could have students brainstorm all they know about Vermont history. Then you could present questions that align with the myths to see what the perspective is that children hold. Then on the topics that are covered in the article, you could provide students with the information that is presented there. I think that middle school students would like to start from a “myth” and go from there. It could be used as an investigation. Students may be able to look at just one section of the article to answer the questions. This would be more manageable than the entire article."
"The essays in this catalog could be useful for teachers and for high school students. Some parts of the essays could be useful for middle school students. The bibliography and the catalog could be useful for research projects.
The exploration of the myth of an idyllic and romantic Vermont is fascinating. Details of myths deliberately created to lure first settlers, then tourists to Vermont is an interesting point to contemplate (and continues to be true today). Also of particular interest was the use of the song Moonlight in Vermont, the film Holiday Inn and Norman Rockwell’s art to create a "memory of a past worth fighting for" during World War II.
I would have through Dorothy Canfield Fisher would have been a more important figure in creating the Vermont myth, though she is quoted. There is very little work by women in the catalog or discussed in the essays, though two of the essays are co-authored by women.
The myth of the romantic farmer and farm life is very much debunked. Farming is a hard and unforgiving life. Many quit and left. Hill farms were always a problem, always a hard life. All of which makes this book a fascinating examination of where the romantic myths came from and why they persist."
Sarah Rooker, ed., Yours in the Cause of the Slave: Vermont and the Underground Railroad
"This is a great packet to use with middle school students that use primary documents. The documents are limited and with the scope of the students’ abilities to be successful at using them.
The activities that are tied to the standards are excellent assessment pieces. This fits nicely with the agricultural era, a teacher can compare the agricultural states of both Vermont and the south. They can look for similarities and differences. Then students may get a better idea why the institution of slavery was so important to the south and why they tried so hard to get their slaves back. Rather than always looking at slavery as a freedom issue, look at it from the South’s point of view. Students could then decide why Vermont took such a strong role in the underground railroad.
This is definitely material to be used with students. Most middle school students would have few difficulties with it."
"The documents in this packet are interesting, informative and very useful. For teachers and students in middle school and high school the packet provides valuable primary source materials for the study of Vermont’s role in the anti-slavery movement. The case study and the letters, as well as the essays could be used in numerous ways, especially for introducing the concept of using primary source materials in research."