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Inquiry Question

Historical Context





Table of

About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places property, "T. M. Sinclair Mansion," (also known as Brucemore) as well as primary and secondary materials available at Brucemore. Melanie Alexander, former Program Director at Brucemore and Jennifer Pustz, Brucemore Historian, wrote the lesson. The lesson was edited by the Teaching with Historic Places staff. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in units on the Gilded Age, including the development of industrial America, changes in urban living, and the experiences of immigrants and women.
Time period: Early 20th century
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To explore the lifestyles and activities of the employees at Brucemore.
2) To compare and contrast working as a servant in a private home with working in a factory or shop.
3) To research ads and articles depicting servants in the early 20th century and consider how stereotypes affect the expectations of employers for employees.
4) To identify and research a historic building in the local community and determine how its use changed over time.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps of Cedar Rapids and the Brucemore estate;
2) three readings about the Douglas family and their servants at Brucemore, and contemporary documents presenting perspectives on working in a factory versus working as a servant;
3) three photographs of the Brucemore mansion and the Douglas family maid Henrietta;
4) three drawings of floor plans for the Brucemore mansion;
5) one illustration from the Ladies Home Journal;
6) one chart relating to Douglas family employees;
7) two documents relating to family accounting ledgers.

Visiting the site
Brucemore is one of 21 historic properties owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The mansion is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. and on Sunday from noon to 3:00 p.m. It is closed on Mondays, the month of January, and major holidays. For more information, please contact Brucemore, 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403, or visit the Brucemore web page.



Comments or Questions

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