Jobs in Jamestown
K-12 Objectives | Materials Needed | Procedures | Assessment | Standards
Specific Lesson Topic: Daily life and events in the Jamestown colony
Methodology: Primary Sources
- Research the occupations of Jamestown settlers using census data, and evaluate the data to show the needs and activities of the colony.
- Recognize different kinds of historical roles and apply knowledge in a writing and drawing exercise.
- Develop beginning skills in historical analysis, including the ability to analyze records, and data, formulate historical questions, and communicate findings graphically and in written form.
- Formulate historical questions from encounters with historical documents.
- At least one networked computer and printer
- Writing and art materials
- Several dictionaries may prove useful
* Any links on this page will open in a new window. To return to this page, close the new window by clicking on the X in the upper right corner.
- Before class, print out "job assignments" sheets for the class, and cut pages so that there are enough slips with individual jobs and their descriptions for each student.
- Ask some opening questions, such as: "If you were traveling to a far-off, wild place, what kinds of people would you bring with you? What kinds of tasks would you want someone to know how to do? What skills do you think would be important?" (Suggestions: grow food, build houses, make clothing, etc.)
- Tell students to pretend that they are all going to be new settlers in the Jamestown colony, and give each student a "job assignment." Have students read about their new assigned occupations.
- Provide crayons and art materials which students will use to make individual "applications" to live in the colony. Suggest that they draw a picture of what they are going to do when they get there (as a carpenter, laborer, etc.). Students will also write a short paragraph explaining what they are doing and why they are the best candidate for the job of "Jamestown Carpenter," for example.
- Before they begin the drawing and writing exercise, divide students up into groups of 4 or 5. One group will use the computer while everybody else works individually on their applications.
- Explain that the occupations they have now were all real occupations held by the first Jamestown settlers. Students will now research the kinds of occupations at the settlement and find out how many people performed which jobs. Find Virtual Jamestown on the web, hand over the mouse to the "designated driver." Remind student group that they are looking for census information about the settlers, ("censuses"), and that they must find information about their occupations ("Occupations of the New World"). Have them print out a copy of this form and look at total numbers. Note: if you click on the above links, they will open in a new window. To return to this page, simply close your new window by clicking on the X in the upper right corner.
- Have students make a bar graph which shows how many men performed each job, using different colors to show different categories. They should also make a color key. (More advanced students may create a pie chart to show the percentages of men in each category).
- Once all groups have used the computer, and each student has drawn their picture, written their application, and constructed their bar graph, reconvence the group for a whole class discussion. Some suggested questions and points are included:
- Which jobs do you think were the most important? Why?
- Are there any jobs not mentioned in the census that you think the Jamestown settlers should have included? What other kinds of duties do you think would be important for a new settlement? Who did the cooking and cleaning? (This was women's work in the early 17th century. But, there were no women at all at Jamestown in the first year and few came afterwards. The distribution of these "women's tasks" caused much internal conflict and disruption, because many settlers were unwilling to perform these tasks. Historians believe that this was a direct cause of the colony's failure.)
- The Jamestown settlement had a lot of problems. Captain John Smith, who at one point became leader of the colony, once threatened that if you didn't work, you didn't eat. Look at your bar graphs. Why do you think John Smith made this threat? Based on what you just learned about these different roles, who do you think wasn't working his share? Why? Encourage students to explain their answers.
Assessment for K-12:
- In the same groups, students should compose a classified ad to attract different kinds of workers and settlers to the colony. For example, Wanted: Blacksmith with appropriate images and text. Based on what they have learned about different jobs and the needs of the colony, students should choose occupations that are underrepresented and that they think are important for the colony's survival. Together students should write an introductory page for their collection of ads describing what it is like to work in the colony to someone who is considering settling in Jamestown.
National History Standards: Standards in Historical Thinking
- Standard 2: Historical Comprehension
- Standard 3: Historical Analysis and Interpretation
- Standard 4: Historical Research Capabilities
This module created by Sonja Czarnecki of the University of Virginia.
© Cheryl L. Mason and William G. Thomas
All Rights Reserved, 1999