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Pioneer Women - Be a Curator!

Be a Museum Curator!

Look What We Found in that Old Trunk!

Pioneer Women: How did pioneers stay in touch with relatives back East?You are a member of a teamof curators at the History Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As a curator, your work is sometimes like that of a detective.

One of your team's assignments is to go through an old trunk donated to the History Center several months ago. To your great satisfaction, you discovered that the trunk is filled with interesting objects from the Kelsey family.

Trunk KeyThe trunk contains letters, photographs and maps that tell more about the family. To begin putting the pieces of the puzzle together, read What We Know about the Kelsey family.

As you carefully unpack the trunk, you take a close look at each new artifact.

Step 1

Look at the list of documents and click on each one to preview what it contains.

Step 2

Develop research questions and identify which artifacts will help you answer those questions.

Here are a few questions to begin your research.

  • What did Jane Kelsey look like?
  • What did James Kelsey look like?
  • What was life like as a pioneer woman?
  • What hardships did pioneers face?
  • Where was the Kelsey farm located?

Write two or three more research questions.

Step 3

Look at the inventory list of documents. Identify which artifacts will help you answer each question.

Step 4

Now you are ready to write captions for each artifact in your Kelsey museum display.

Work with a partner and write captions for one or more items that will be included in your museum display. The caption should be two to four sentences in length describing the main idea of the item.

1849 Letter
1854 Letter
1863 Letter
Maps of Linn County
Photograph of Cottage Home

Step 5

Print a copy of each artifact for a classroom display. Display a copy of each artifact in your classroom and place your caption with each item.


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