For Teachers and Students

Students from the Rivers and Revolutions Program at Concord-Carlisle High School helped create the Thomas Dugan lesson plan.

Concord-Carlisle High School students helped create the Thomas Dugan lesson plan.

The exhibition Thomas Dugan: Yeoman of Concord was a visualization of one man’s belongings based on a primary source – an inventory taken after Dugan’s death in 1827. The inventory, along with an obituary, a newspaper ad, and Dugan’s will, are a few remaining written records by which we can piece together parts of Dugan’s life. Most of Dugan’s contemporaries left no written records at all. And yet, by scouring the primary sources we do have, using historical objects as primary sources in their own right, and looking at history through different lenses, we can learn a great deal about the daily life of an African American farmer in Concord in the 1820s.

This page provides resources to learn more about Thomas Dugan’s inventory, African American history in Massachusetts, and probate inventories as primary sources. For teachers, there is information and a lesson plan to use Dugan in the classroom.

Thomas Dugan’s Inventory
Explore this detailed look at the objects included in Thomas Dugan’s inventory. Download Inventory

Lesson Plan
Thomas Dugan: An African American Life in 1820s Concord 
Created with students in the Rivers and Revolutions program at Concord-Carlisle Regional High School, this lesson can be used in the classroom and is aimed at US History Courses. This discussion-based, virtual field trip will help students investigate the life of one man who died in 1827 through the objects listed on the inventory taken at his death. The activities are designed to work well for visual learners, provide opportunities to use both object-based learning and primary sources as historical evidence, and help students connect to historical objects that real people have left behind.

Topic connections: life in the early 19th century; post-Revolution and pre-Civil War units; African American history; lives of people who were formerly enslaved; daily life for the middle class.
Download Lesson Instructions
Download Lesson Slideshow
Download Lesson History and Approach
Download Student Worksheet: Thomas Dugan Inventory
Download Student Worksheet: Obituary
Download Annotated Inventory
For more teacher and student resources visit our Education pages.


To Learn More

Explore how to use probate inventories in the classroom.

Learn more about the lives of African Americans in Massachusetts after the end of slavery through historical manuscripts and rare published works from the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Go for a walk! The Robbins House has developed a self-guided trail map of African American and Anti-slavery history in Concord.

Background image: Thomas Dugan’s Probate Inventory, 1827