July 24-26, 2018

Counting House Museum, South Berwick, Maine

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The Forgotten Frontier Teacher Workshop was part of a multiyear project of the Old Berwick Historical Society to reinterpret life on the far reaches of settlement in New England’s first century, in anticipation of the 400th anniversary of New England’s founding in 2020. The workshop engaged teachers with objects and documents from the OBHS exhibit, Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua, as well as OBHS’s unique collection of artifacts excavated at the Chadbourne site, one of the most important and best-preserved archaeology sites in New England.  

In summer 2018 OBHS hosted twenty middle school and high school teachers from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York for a three-day summer intensive training program exploring the founding history of New England’s northern frontier and the ways that diverse cultures navigated deep cultural divides. 

Participants were chosen to join curators, archaeologists and historians in examining the turbulent century of the 1600s through the lives of settlers and Natives vying for control of the landscape and their destiny. Encounters between cultures who occupied this region—Native American, French and English—were the focus of investigation. The workshop introduced teachers to local primary resources and advanced methods for teaching early colonial history using artifacts and documents as research tools.  The program included field trips to four historic sites in the region: the Chadbourne and Spencer-Goodwin dig sites in South Berwick; Wentworth House (c. 1708) in Rollinsford; and Jackson House (c. 1664) in Portsmouth.

Teacher workshop 1






Teachers presenting lesson plans at Wentworth House

Teachers created lesson plans that were classroom tested and reviewed at a callback session held at Wentworth House on November 3, 2018. Lessons will be posted on the Teacher Resources page of the OBHS website. Teachers also collaborated with museum staff on the development of artifact kits for classroom use. Two kits will be available for classroom use, one focused on Native lifeways before and after European contact, and the other focused on home life of English settlers.


Workshop Content:

Cultural conflict and accommodation provide a compelling entry point for studying early colonial history. Historian Emerson “Tad” Baker introduced rival cultures and the global context of their encounters in this region. Abenaki scholar Lisa Brooks provided a Native perspective on the earliest wars with English settlers. Archaeologist Kathleen Wheeler and architectural historian Peter Michaud addressed the local impact of settlement on development of the region. Cultural historian Peter Cook led discussion about the use of artifacts to explore early colonial life.

Teacher workshop 2






Jackson House (c. 1664), Portsmouth, New Hampshire

Presentations by historians investigating English and Native perspectives of the early colonial period were balanced with site visits to the Chadbourne archeological site and the c. 1664 Jackson House, as well as hands-on demonstrations about English domestic life and Native trade practices. The final day of the workshop included training in methods for using primary sources to foster student-centered learning. Teachers selected documents and artifacts for classroom use and collaborate on drafting lesson plans in a concluding exercise. A half-day callback session at Wentworth House in early November gave teachers the opportunity to present and review their field-tested lesson plans for upload to the OBHS website. 


Workshop Schedule:  

A full schedule of activities for the three-day workshop is given below.

Piscatway map












Pascatway River in New England, attributed to John Scott, c. 1670; collection The British Library


Day 1: A Sense of Place

9:00-9:30: Coffee, introductions, workshop overview 

9:30-10:30: The Other New England: Dr. Baker discusses early settlement of the Piscataqua and the century of cultural contest that ensued.

10:30-11:15: Meet Your Neighbors: Exhibit tour with curator Nina Maurer

11:15-12:00: A New World Imagined:  An exercise introducing the Piscataqua region in maps, materials and manuscripts

12:00-1:00: Lunch

1:00-1:15: Travel to Chadbourne Site in South Berwick

1:15-2:30: Site visit to Chadbourne Archaeology Site and Newichawannock homeland

2:30-2:45: Site visit to Goodwin House and Old Fields

2:45-3:00: Return to Counting House Museum

3:00-4:00: Group exercise in using primary source documents to understand the significance of place

Day 2: Life on the Northern Frontier

9:00-9:15: Coffee, review and questions

9:15-10:30: Indigenous life and trade relations with Ken Hamilton

10:30-10:45: Travel to Wentworth House (c. 1708) in Rollinsford 

10:45-12:00: English domestic life and foodways with Kathleen Curtin

12:00-1:00: Hearth lunch at Wentworth House 

1:00-1:30: Travel to Jackson House (c. 1664) in Portsmouth

1:30-3:30: A Heritage Written in Wood and Clay: Using architecture and artifacts as primary sources, with tours led by Dr. Kathleen Wheeler, Peter Michaud and Peter Cook

3:30-4:00: Return to Counting House

4:00-6:00: Optional reception and tour of Tare Shirt Farm in Berwick with Peter Cook

Day 3: Conflict in the Piscataqua Region

9:00-9:15: Coffee, review and questions

9:15-10:30: Case Study in Conflict: The Salmon Falls Raid of 1690 with Dr. Baker

10:30-11:00: Teaching with primary sources presented by Dr. Baker and Wendy Bergeron

11:00-12:00: Work time with primary sources (captivity narratives, letters and treaties) 

12:00-12:30: Lunch 

12:30-2:00: The Northern Front: Reframing English narratives of King Phillip’s War from a Wabanaki perspective, with Dr. Lisa Brooks

2:00-2:45: Developing a lesson plan, with Wendy Bergeron

2:45-3:30: Lesson planning work time

3:30-4:00: Questions, discussion and scheduling of fall callback session


Workshop Staff:

Teacher workshop staff






Historian Tad Baker and curator Nina Maurer

Project Scholar: Dr. Emerson (Tad) Baker is a professor of history and interim dean of graduate studies at Salem State University, where he teaches material culture in early America, museum studies, and research seminars in history. He is the author of several books, including A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience, The Devil of Great Island: Witchcraft and Conflict in Early New England, and American Beginnings: Exploration, Culture and Cartography in the Land of Norumbega. Tad was the director of the Chadbourne Archaeology Project in South Berwick.

Workshop Supervisor: Nina Maurer is a museum consultant and curator of the OBHS exhibit Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua. She was a McNeil Fellow in the Winterthur Program and holds a Master in American Material Culture degree from the University of Delaware. As a regional director for Historic New England and as a curator at history museums in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine, Nina has worked in the interpretation of history collections for over thirty years. She is co-author with Tad Baker of the exhibit catalog, Forgotten Frontier: Untold Stories of the Piscataqua

Workshop Coordinator: Wendy M. Bergeron is a high school social studies teacher at Winnacunnet High School in Hampton, New Hampshire, where she teaches AP United States history, foundations of democracy, and women’s studies. Wendy has a Master in Museum Studies degree from Harvard University and was named a 2017 James Madison Fellow. She is currently pursuing a second master’s degree in American history and government from Ashland University.


Speakers and Presenters: 

• Dr. Lisa Brooks, associate professor of English and American studies at Amherst College, on King Philip’s War from the Wabanaki perspective

• Dr. Kathleen Wheeler, owner of Independent Archaeological Consulting, on the archaeological record of early Portsmouth

• Peter Michaud, National Register coordinator for the state of New Hampshire, on the architectural heritage of the Piscataqua region

• Peter Cook, retired professor in the graduate school of education at Lesley University and former chief curator at Plimoth Plantation, on using artifacts in the classroom 

• Ken Hamilton, Penobscot interpreter and cultural historian, on Wabanaki trade relations and material culture

• Kathleen Curtin, history teacher at Portsmouth Middle School and former historian at Plimoth Plantation, on English domestic life and foodways


Program Sponsors:

The Forgotten Frontier Teacher Workshop was produced with generous support from the Davis Family Foundation, Maine Humanities Council and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, fostering place-based education and cultural engagement.

Chadbourne key

Door key from the Chadbourne House site; collection OBHS

To Read the Old Berwick Historical Society's Strategic Plan,  Click here.


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