Fever 1793 Extension Activity
- Grades: 6–8
About this book
1. Fever 1793 contains many words or expressions that were commonly used in those days but are rarely used today. Create a dictionary for unusual words or phrases found in the book. For each word, include a definition. Suggested entries: stays (p. 3); the necessary (p. 24); ninny (p. 33); flagstones (p. 35); mucky (p. 69); headed for a lark (p. 76).
Provide students with dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other primary sources. Discuss how we use context clues to determine the definition of a word and how and why language changes. Students might also create a dictionary for unusual words and phrases used today to compare how the American language has changed and what might have influenced those changes.
2. Excerpts from diaries of people living in Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic appear on each chapter's opening page. Create a fictional diary entry, written by a Philadelphian in the summer of 1794.
Students can use the dictionaries of words and phrases from the period to add some authenticity to their journals. Again, provide the students with primary sources to help them get their bearings. Encourage them to think about how Philadelphia might have changed since the epidemic: was medicine, trade, or business different? They could also investigate how Philadelphia might have changed while it was the temporary capital of the United States. Before students begin their diary entry, they should have a clear idea of who their character is, i.e. his or her social class, gender, occupation, race, etc.