George Washington crossing the Delaware River, c. 1912
This guest post is from the Library of Congress Teacher in Residence, Earnestine Sweeting.
When I’ve asked my students, “Would anyone be interested in a trip on a ferry?” they’ve all cheered with excitement. But I wonder how many of us would be brave enough to take a night voyage through an ice-clogged river on a boat battered by snow and high winds.
Primary sources from the Library of Congress can let students explore this momentous–and shivery–event.
On the evening of December 25, 1776, General George Washington and his Continental Army crossed the Delaware River. For many of us, Washington’s crossing is known as one of many daring events of the American Revolution. In his papers, Washington described the passing of his Continental Army as one of difficulty due to a violent storm of snow and hail. Although their mission was a success, he explained how ice made the passage tedious.
Washington crossing the Delaware, c. 1898
Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting depicts the severity of the night while this print titled George Washington Crossing the Delaware River provides another version. What did each artist emphasize? Take a look at the bibliographic information for these sources. Considering both pieces were created after the events, what does that suggest about their accuracy?
Teachers can have students:
- Create a multi-sensory narrative writing piece. First, have the students draw on their five senses to describe what Emanuel Leutze reveals. Use the Primary Source Analysis Tool as a prewriting plan to help students organize their thoughts.
- Compare this print of Leutze’s iconic painting with Thomas Sully’s or another artist’s depiction of Washington’s crossing.
- Examine how Washington describes the victories at Trenton and Princeton.
- Evaluate the historical accuracy portrayed in Leutze’s depiction of the crossing. Have students consider the time of the passage and weather conditions of the Delaware River, research the Durham boats Washington secured for the trip, and raise questions around the men in the boat – Who do you suppose was on the boat with Washington? Was it realistic to have the so many men on the boat? What thoughts come to mind about the flag they carried?
For background information, browse The American Revolution, 1763 – 1783 for more details.
Tell us how you might use images and descriptions of Washington’s crossing to deepen your students’ understanding of this event?
Information literacy standards require students to think about the creator’s purpose and determine the meaning of symbols. The Thomas Jefferson Building: Secret Messages is an online activity that helps students do both.
For many of us Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity to share a wonderful meal with family and friends, to give thanks for all of the good things that have taken place and to watch or play football.
This guest post was excerpted from e-mail correspondence from Eden Kuhlenschmidt, who works as a school librarian. Eden participated in a 2012 Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Summer Teacher Institute. She wrote to us about her experience taking what she learned back to the teachers and students in her school. Watch this blog for the 2013 Summer Teacher Institute application — coming next month.
Helping students explore popular ideas about Thanksgiving is about as traditional as roast turkey and all the trimmings. Primary sources from the Library can help your students compare today’s images with those from the past.
Just a reminder that teachers have two chances to talk with Library of Congress education specialists at conferences this week.
As part of the continuing commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, the Library of Congress just opened an exhibition The Civil War in America, displaying more than 200 items from the Library’s unmatched collections. Students may look at maps, letters, diaries, or photographs to learn about the experiences of those who fought in the war and those who were left behind to tend the homestead. While these sources are excellent, make sure to include music as a way to help students learn about life during the Civil War.
Photographs offer a snapshot of a particular time and place, telling a careful viewer as much about the photographer as about the subjects of the pictures. That’s often particularly true when the photographer isn’t a member of the group being photographed. One example from the Library of Congress’s collections is Edward S. Curtis, who dedicated most of his career to photographing Native American cultures and traditions to publish in a multi-volume book titled The North American Indian.
Are you going to either the National Council of Social Studies Conference November 16-18 in Seattle or to the National Council for Teachers of English Conference November in Las Vegas? The Library of Congress Educational Outreach Team will be exhibiting and presenting at both conferences.
The Library of Congress American Folklife Center has worked to preserve the culture of America’s people. Through on-site recordings and unposed images we are able to experience the language, the songs, the stories and the performances of Native Americans in their communities or here at the Library of Congress.