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Lesson Plan 1 - Transportation
download lesson01.pdf

This lesson introduces students to the documents in the Sacramento History Online Collection (SHO) at and the role of primary sources in understanding history. It focuses on how materials that have survived from the past can be used to reconstruct the story of how a community has changed over time. Before using the database with your class, take some time to browse the SHO collection online to get an overview of the types of documents that are included. (These lessons use the term document to refer to any of the items in the database, including photographs). You can view or print most single images directly as a JPEG file. However, some documents are in Adobe Acrobat PDF format and must be viewed or printed with Acrobat Reader. Lesson 1 does not require students to work online.

1. Describe the differences between a primary source and a textbook.
2. Give several examples of the types of documents that are in the SHO collection.
3. Categorize a group of items according to their document type.
4. List modern ephemera that might offer clues about your own community.

This lesson emphasizes database search strategies and how to use the SHO collection to find information about transportation, rather than teaching specific history content.

CLICK to open this article in a separate window that can be printed with most browsers.

CLICK to download this PDF document, which then can be viewed and printed with Adobe Reader.


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DOCUMENTS TO DISCUSS (view online or print screen)
The documents shown below provide examples of the different document types in the SHO collection, including books, ephemera, manuscripts, maps, photographs, postcards, prints, and technical drawings. CLICK on an image to view or print the document.

Books Manuscripts

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1. Hardware, farm implements and vehicles; The Thomson-Diggs Co.
Light Surrey. Pages from a catalog of buggies, wagons, surreys, harnesses, tops, and other parts.

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2. Correspondence signed by Mark Hopkins
Letter dated March 10, 1868, signed by Mark Hopkins, one of Big Four investors in the Central Pacific Railroad.

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3. Theodore Judah
Daguerreotye of railroad engineer who played a key role in convincing investors and eventually the government to build the Transcontinental Railroad.

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4. Central Pacific Pacific Railroad steam locomotive
No. 1

[ca. 1867]
Stereograph showing the first locomotive of the Central Pacific Railroad.

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5. Steamboat Linda
Broadside advertising for freight and passengers to travel on the Linda.

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6. Railroad ticket
Ticket issued jointly by the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads for travel between Omaha and San Francisco.

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7. Dance card
Dance card for a ball by several organizations, including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen California Lodge No. 260. Shows pencil attached to card.
Maps Postcards

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8. Map of the city of Sacramento
Map from Ormando Willis Gray, Gray's Atlas of the United States.

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9. Horse-drawn delivery wagon N Street.
[ca. 1900]
A wagon hauls its load past the California State Capitol building on N Street in Sacramento.
Prints Technical Documents

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10. Inundation of the State Capitol, City of Sacramento
J Street from the Levee shows flooded street with row boats.

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11. Plan and end elevation of proposed 60 ft. baggage car for the carrying of bicycles on local train [1895]

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1. Print any of the images and PDF files shown above that you will use in your discussion, as well as Student Activity Sheet 1 and Key.

2. Read Background Article 1. You may wish to read it to your students or have them read it by themselves. Discuss any questions that they may have.

3. Introduce students to the SHO Collection by using printouts of the documents above or by showing them several records from the online database.

4. Ask students to look at some of the different documents (printed or online). Can they tell how the items are related? (age, location, subject)

5. Tell the students that the Sacramento History Online website has documents related to the history of Sacramento and Sacramento County from 1849-1929. Many of these materials are primary sources.

6. Explain the term primary sources. Discuss how primary sources differ from textbooks and modern books written about a historical time period.

7. Discuss each of the document types and ask students to give examples of each. (books, ephemera, manuscripts, maps, photographs, postcards, prints, and technical drawings)

8. To discuss ephemera: Ask students what they think the word ephemera might mean. Do they know any other words that sound similar? The word ephemera relates to object that are ephemeral. The term ephemeral means something that lasts only a short time (originally it meant lasting only a day). Once students understand the concept, ask if any of them have items in their family that came from another time period, something not necessarily intended to have lasting value (e.g. a ticket, an old postcard from a relative, a political button, a newspaper clipping). Do any of them have a scrapbook? What kinds of things do they save? What is often thrown away?

9. Give students the following activity sheet (printed from the PDF file):
Activity Sheet 1: Introducing the Sacramento History Online Collection.
After they have finished the activity, discuss their answers as a group.

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1. Search the SHO collection to find other examples of each type of document, using keyword or advanced searches.

2. Make a personal scrapbook to start saving items that might be of interest to you or to someone in the future.

3. Make a list of materials representing the different document types that would tell someone in the future about your community. What things should be shown in photographs in order for them to be included? What maps should be included? What ephemera?

4. Make a community scrapbook containing items that document your own geographical area.

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Edinger, M. Seeking history, teaching with primary sources in grades 4-6.
  Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2000. (includes a CD-ROM).

Noren, Catherine. The way we looked, the meaning and magic of family photographs.
  New York: Lodestar Books, 1983.

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The Learning Page, American Memory Collections, Library of Congress

The Daguerreian Society: A History of the Daguerreotype

A Brief History of Daguerreotypy

Stereoviews of the Nineteenth Century

Viewing a Stereograph (without a viewer)

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