Although travel could be difficult, people in the nineteenth century were curious about the world around them. Without movies and television, people relied on maps, drawings, black and white photographs (after 1839), and writers to tell them about the world. In school, geography was an important subject and students learned about the “exotic” animals and peoples of other countries as well as their own. In the following exercise, students will look at a nineteenth century geography lesson about the Middle Atlantic States.

1. Have your students look at the lesson from Swinton’s Primary Geography, published in 1879, and originally used by Frank Lanning, a student at North Warren. Students may work in groups or individually.

2. Have students examine the material and answer the following questions, or create your own.

Questions for Students:

1. Look at the pictures at the top of the lesson. What do they show? Which pictures might be showing a scene from Warren County?

2. What are some of the things that students 100 years ago learned about the Middle Atlantic States?

3. What questions and answers specifically mention Pennsylvania? Do you think the answer to all of these questions would be the same today? Why or why not?

4. Can you find Warren on the map? Circle it. Can you find the Allegheny River? Trace the Allegheny River down to Pittsburgh, where it joins other rivers to become the Ohio River. Remember that boats could go from Warren to New Orleans, Louisiana, by riding the Allegheny river to the Ohio River, and then to the Mississippi River.

5. Would you like to have been a student over 100 years ago learning geography lessons like this one? Why or why not?


Additional Geography Programs:


Courtesy of the Warren County Historical Society