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A Guide to Primary Resources for U.S. History
Early America Back to History Unit

Fortified Town Plan of Plymouth, 1622
University of Virginia: The Plymouth Colony Archive Project

Description: This resource brings the past and present vividly into contact by using digital technology to superimpose the plan and position of the original fortified town of Plymouth onto a map of Plymouth in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It can raise interesting questions for student discussion about original settler site choice, and the subsequent development of the town. Students using this resource might also benefit from having access to a print atlas of historical and contemporary Massachusetts.

Teaching Tips:

"Do Now" Suggestions
  • Students could list geographical characteristics they would seek in settling in a new area. Students could then identify what geographical characteristics appear to have played a part in the settlement at Plymouth, and what advantages and disadvantages this location had for the colonists.
  • Students could read the expository paragraphs and study the maps of the Plymouth colonial settlement location, and then list several advantages and disadvantages to this settlement location.
Suggestion for Using this Resource as Part of a Lesson
  • Students divided into groups could examine some of the Hargrett Collection's early maps (see digital resources VUS.2.4 and VUS.2.5), with each group choosing a different map. Using the criteria developed in the "Do Now Suggestions," students could determine an alternative settlement location. Each group of students could then share with the class the location they chose, explaining why this is the best location for a new settlement.

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