Posted by: history591seventeen | June 14, 2008


Today we went to the home of Henry Francis du Pont-Winterthur.  First we listened to Dr. Cathy Matson and she explained the “Consumer Revolution”.  She stated that people of this time period are not just getting by;  they actually have money to spend on things they don’t necessarily need.  This becomes another type of business.  Dr. Matson also showed us prints from the time period, and I thought  I can use these with my students to explore parts of this time period.


Next we went to the Winterthur Library, which houses 87,000 volumes and 500,000 manuscripts and images.  They also allow researchers in.  The librarian shared many different pieces including books on architect to books on teaching manners. It was very interesting.


After lunch, we went on an informative Garden tram tour.  The grounds of Winterthur were amazing!  They have trees that are hundreds of year old.  They have fields of flowers as well.  I bet that would have been an unbelievable place to live. 


Then we toured the house.  It is a nine story home in which du Pont had furnished each room with items dating back to the mid-eighteen hundreds to the early nineteen hundreds.  At the same time, I had to keep reminding myself that Henry Francis du Pont didn’t live in that time period; he wanted to preserve it for others.  By touring the house, I could see that he had things shipped from all over the world.  That would be a fun exercise to do with my students.  We could take photos of rooms and identify where items came from, dating the items and placing this information on a map.  That would be a great way to show the global market place of a time period. 


The last activity we did at Winterthur was an activity called “Maker & Marketplace”.  We looked at a clock shop and discussed all the different job covered in this one shop.  We did an activity where we put pieces of a table leg back together to show how many steps would go into making just one leg.  That would be great to show kids how this was done. 


We also looked at trade signs in the house tour.  Then we discussed how important it was to have these because not everyone spoke English, but they knew where the hat maker’s shop was.  Then we simulated a store and used a bargaining system to trade with each other.  That was a good simulation that I can take back to my classroom.  I just hope we get copies of the materials they used. 


We were then given artifact bags, in which we were to state where an item came from.  There was an artifact book that we used to guide us to our choices.  We then set the item on a world map, again showing global trading of the time period.  I would love to do this with my students, but I’m not sure how to develop an artifact book.  Clearly, Winterthur was an amazing experience.    



  1. Thanks for the better description of teh lesson. I’d been looking for that.

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