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Statue in Gloucester, Massachusetts

[Detail] Statue in Gloucester, Massachusetts

Lesson Overview

The unique geographic and economic characteristics of the Northeast coast become apparent through the study of photographs, maps and interviews with two New England fishermen of the early 20th century. How did rugged New Englanders make a living and provide for their families? How did they adapt to the environment and how did they change it? Primary sources from the American Memory collections illustrate the link between New England's economic and cultural past and the issues it faces for its future.


While completing this project, students will:

  • analyze primary sources, including historical photos, oral histories, and maps;
  • extrapolate information and analyze language in order to write a poem on one theme in the oral histories;
  • compare the motivations, lifestyles, and aspirations of a native-born fisherman and a newly arrived immigrant fisherman ; and
  • plan, research and conduct a debate on the need for restrictive legislation in the fishing industry.


Time Required

  • One to two weeks

Recommended Grade Level

  • 9-12
  • 6-8


  • Culture & Folklife


  • Great Depression and WWII, 1929-1945
  • Progressive Era to New Era, 1900-1929


Helen Johnson & Maureen Whalen Spaight