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Colonial Comics is a graphic trilogy featuring unconventional stories of Colonial New England from an eclectic collection of comics writers and artists, fiction and nonfiction authors, university professors, and renowned historians.

This first graphic volume is a collection of 20 stories focusing on the colonial history of New England from 1620 through 1750. It brings to life the stories not found in history books, including tales of Puritans and free thinkers, Pequots and Jewish settlers, female business owners and dedicated school teachers, whales and livestock, slavery and frontiers, and many other untold aspects of colonial life.

Using Technology – The Stories that Weren't Told

"History is written by the victors."
        – Winston Churchill

While most people know that history is written by the victors, they sometimes don’t realize that the one-sided view of history often ignores many segments of society, even among the victors. Women, children, servants… their stories are rarely told, no matter how important they were to the time.

In colonial New England, most of the European settlers would have been farmers who grew their own food, and hunted for the rest. When they had a surplus they could sell to other people or trade for things they needed. In addition to raising and teaching their children, and doing all of the cooking and cleaning, women usually raised poultry, and made butter and cheese and brewed ale, selling any surplus that they could. They would also spin wool and flax into thread, which they then wove into cloth.

Think of a typical colonist – not one of the famous people you usually learn about in history, but one of the everyday people who helped build the European settlements. Search for Internet sites that end in ".org" or ".edu" and that feature information about how average people survived the challenges of life in the colonies.

Now write a character description for the person, as if you were casting this person in a movie about colonial life. Include age, level of education, the job the person did and how the person learned how to do this job, and even the kind of clothing the person would wear. You can sketch the person, or write adjective-filled bullet points for each key characteristic so you can show how your colonist would have lived.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Usage – The Red Letter Year

Sometimes critical events in history have occurred just because of how someone interpreted language. In Jamestown colony, 1619 was considered “the red letter year.” In this year, for the first time, Jamestown had an elected government. In addition, single women came over from England to marry single settlers, and Dutch traders brought captured African men to work in the colony.

These African men were supposed to be indentured servants, meaning that they should have been set free after working in the settlement for between seven and ten years. However, because the men had been taken from Africa against their will, and few spoke English, instead of being granted the freedom that they should have been able to earn, they instead became slaves. So, because it was never explained to them that they needed to work just long enough to pay off their passage, and because they didn't realize they could demand their freedom when their term of service ended, North America's hideous chapter of slavery began – one that took nearly 250 years to close.

Today, it’s just as important to make sure that all people involved in any situation understand just what is being communicated and why. Think of a time when you were trying to communicate with someone and, for whatever reason, problems arose because what you intended didn’t match what actually occurred. Create a flowchart that shows the process of where you started, what went wrong (and why it went wrong), and what the final result was.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas – Map It

 

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Compare this map, which shows the areas where some of the people featured in Colonial Comics lived, with this interactive map. This map shows where Native peoples traditionally lived before Europeans started to build permanent settlements in North America.

Looking at these maps, which Native tribes would have been most likely to encounter the first settlers? Research three of these tribes (to start, you can find additional information at this page), and create your own map of tribal lands these people have today, if any.

How does tracing the history of North America’s indigenous people make you feel? Based on the facts you have learned, write a paragraph, a poem, or create a piece of art that expresses your feelings about this side of American history.

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