Article, Book Resources

Time Travel With Primary Sources

Using authentic documents and artifacts will make history and literature burst with life for your students.

  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Several versions of Mourt's Relation exist, in addition to some excellent books on Pilgrims, and Web sites about the Mayflower and the Plymouth Colony. Here are just a few sources for you to tap as you begin to explore infusing primary sources into your curriculum.

Versions of Mourt's Relation

I, Homes in the Wilderness: A Pilgrim Journal of Plymouth Plantation in 1620, by William Bradford and Others of the Mayflower Company, Margaret Wise Brown (Linnet Books, 1988)
This is a reprint of Brown's 1939 adaptation for children of Mourt's Relation. The illustrations are very inaccurate; however, there is a useful glossary to help make sense of the antiquated language.

The Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, in New England, in 1620: Reprinted from the Original Volume, George B. Cheever (John Wiley, 1848)
This version had the original spelling and is the one I use for this activity.

Mourt's Relation: A Journal of the Pilgrims at Plymouth, Dwight Heath (Applewood Books, 1963)
The original with the spelling and other mechanics standardized. It also has very useful footnotes on unfamiliar words, the Mayflower Compact, and more.

Pilgrim Voice: Our First Year in the New World, Peter and Connie Roop (Walker and Co., 1995)
The Roops have adapted and combined original material from both Mourt's Relation and Of Plymouth Plantation, Governor Bradford's memoir of the events. Excellent and carefully researched illustrations which my students use as they create their own.

Useful Secondary Sources on the Pilgrims

  • Eating the Plates: A Pilgrim Book of Food and Manners, Lucille Recht Pennner (Scholastic, 1991)
  • The Pilgrims of Plimoth, Marcia Sewall (Atheneum, 1986)
  • Thunder From the Clear Sky, Marcia Sewall (Atheneum, 1995)
  • Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl, Kate Waters. Photos by Russ Kendall (Scholastic, 1989)
  • Samuel Eaton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Boy, Kate Waters. Photos by Russ Kendall (Scholastic, 1993)
  • On the Mayflower: Voyage of the Ship's Apprentice and a Passenger Girl, Kate Waters. Photos by Russ Kendall (Scholastic, 1996)

Web Pages

The First Thanksgiving 

Caleb Johnson's Mayflower Web Pages


The Plymouth Colony Archive Project at the University of Virginia

  • Subjects:
    Early Exploration and Settlements, Classroom Management, Pilgrims, Reading Comprehension, Teacher Tips and Strategies
  • Skills:
    Primary Sources, Reference Sources, Social Studies

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