The Thanksgiving holiday is fast approaching and now is an ideal time to investigate how we think about the original event. A versatile image available in our collection is the 1914 postcard by Jennie Brownscombe, “The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth.” This beautifully crafted and intricate image can serve either as an opener or final assessment.
As an opener for a lesson related to the Pilgrims, establishment of Plymouth, and interactions with local Native Americans have students engage in analysis using a strategy such as “Toolbox” described on page 3 of this Colonial Diversity lesson. After examining additional sources, such as this set at the Library of Congress, students can return to the Brownscombe image to discuss “Is this a realistic interpretation of the first Thanksgiving? Why or why not?” Requiring students to provide evidence for their choice provides an opportunity to strengthen the skills described in Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects related to reading a variety of sources on a topic (Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6–12 RH1 & 9, pg. 60) and writing arguments supported by evidence (Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects 6–12 WHST1, pg. 64.)
What primary sources do you like to use around Thanksgiving?