Primary Source Activity: Richard Manning Bucktrout Daybook and Ledger

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Grade and Level: United States and Virginia History Grade 8 - 11

Instructional Time: Flexible, at least 30 minutes but can be expanded into larger project.

Essential Learning: Students will practice analyzing primary sources to learn about life before, during and after the Civil War. In so doing, students will observe and synthesize different groups within society, including slaves, free blacks, soldiers, merchants, shop keepers, farmers, among others.

Essential Question: How do primary source documents inform us about events in the past?

Classroom Organization: Computer Lab with Internet; Copies of Biography Chart and Conclusions Sheet.

Materials and Resources: Computers, Copies of Richard Manning Bucktrout Daybook Background Sheet and Biography Chart

Documents: Bucktrout Background Sheet Biography Chart

Website for Assignment:

Description: Richard Manning Bucktrout's "Daybook and Ledger" tracks the daily activities of an important Williamsburg businessman in the 16 years before, during and after the Civil War. Starting in 1850, the Daybook offers an intriguing glimpse into the daily lives (and deaths) of Williamsburg's citizens.

Standards, Benchmarks and Indicators Objectives

National Standards for History

Standard 3: The Student engages in historical analysis and interpretation. Standard 4: The student conducts historical research.


Virginia Standards, Benchmarks and Indicators




Assessment Criteria: