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Internet Lessons for Learning About Religion in Colonial North America

The Joseph Bellamy House: The Great Awakening in Puritan New England
Examine the influence of Reverend Joseph Bellamy, a leading preacher in New England from 1740-1790, in colonial American religion, and learn about the role of religion in 18th-century life as well as the resurgence of religious fervor known as the Great Awakening. Standards 5.4.4 and 8.1.1

San Antonio Missions: Spanish Influence in Texas
Explore a group of 18th-century missions in modern San Antonio to learn about Spanish influence on native peoples and the patterns of Texas culture at this lesson developed by the National Park Service. Standards 5.4.5 and 8.8.5

Salem Witchcraft Trials 1692
This selection from the Famous American Trials site has the documentation from the famous case that has been made into movies and books. There is a wealth of primary material for holding a classroom mock trial, there is a decision-making section called “You’re accused” and suggested discussion questions in the Teaching Tools area. Standard 5.4.3

The Examination of Mrs. Anne Hutchinson at the Court at Newton. 1637
This is the court transcript of the trial of Anne Hutchinson who challenged the authority of Puritan ministers in colonial Massachusetts. The religious climate in the Massachusetts Bay Colony was oppressive. The male members of Boston's church met regularly to discuss sermons but when Anne held meetings in her home, she was charged with upsetting the peace by challenging the church authority. Standard 5.4.3 and 11.3.2

The colonial government moved to discipline her and her numerous followers in Boston. This transcript of her trial before the General Court would make an interesting mock trial simulation. This picture of the trial http://www.learner.org/amerpass/slideshow/archive_search.php?number=2438 will serve as a great back drop for the classroom event. Standard 5.4.3

Souls in Need of Salvation, Satan's Agents, or Brothers in Peace? -
English Settlers' Views of Native Americans

This is an essay with discussion questions and an archive of primary source material to support it. Many of the primary source images may be projected for whole class viewing. This material provides a very important insight into colonial relations with the American Indians that began in the colonial period but continued in many ways through the 19th century. Standard 5.3.0

Plain Style: Keeping it Simple
The term plain style refers to expression characterized by straightforward simplicity, and lack of ornamentation. In early America, the plain-style shaped prose and poetry, the design of furniture and buildings, and the style of painting and other visual arts. Rejecting ornamental flourishes and superfluous decoration as evidence of sinful vanity, plain stylists worked to glorify God in their productions rather than show off their own artistry or claim any renown for themselves. This is an essay with discussion questions and an archive of primary source material to support it. Many of the primary source images may be projected for whole class viewing. Standard 5.4.3

Acrimony in Bruton Parish Church
In 1773, Williamsburg was not without excitement. One of the more interesting events was Bruton Parish's search for a new rector. The church had filled its vacant minister's position numerous times before with little difficulty. But this time the search involved a clash of personalities and religious doctrines. This role play activity will demonstrate to students the importance of religion in the eighteenth century and the involvement of citizens in the selection of the rector of Bruton Parish Church. Standards 8.1.1 and 11.3.1

Separating of Church and State
In this activity in Bill of Rights in Action students take a position on issues related to separation of Church and State. Additional sources from Archiving Early America will enrich the debate including Original Intent and The Free Exercise of Religion http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/fall98/original.html America's Government Is Secular http://www.earlyamerica.com/review/summer97/secular.html
Standards 8.2.5, 11.3.5, 12.1.6, and 12.10 civics

Three Religions in Virginia
On this journey, you will assume a role representing the English colonists, the Africans, or the Native Americans of Jamestown. The governor has decided to give each group the opportunity to voice opinions and support reasons for wanting to have religious liberties. He would like for each group to draft a document defining its faith and to give reasons why its religion best suits the colony. He has ordered his men to instruct each group to research its religion and to examine the social issues surrounding these beliefs. Through this journey, each group will create a document of religious liberties to which they believe that they are entitled to practice while residing in Jamestown. Standards 5.4.3, 8.2.5 and 11.3.0 general

The Puritan Mind
Here are five short primary source documents with a set of questions directing students to analyze the documents to determine basic Puritan beliefs, their attitude toward women and children, and ways the Puritans attempted to make religion a controlling force in everyday life. Standard 5.4.3

Witchcraft in Salem
Here are two brief readings from the Salem witch trials of 1692 with discussion questions directing student to think about what Puritans really believed about witchcraft and the supernatural, why the people of the time believed a witchcraft epidemic was taking place, and why most accused witches were women. Standard 5.4.3

Teaching American History Institutes | Desert Area Homepage | Lesson Materials | Resources
> Religion in Colonial North America Resources