of sound and disposing mind and memory...":
Wills are fascinating
documents that can give students many ideas about life in the past.
Social, political and economic information can be gained by reading
and discussing the plans for the disposal of an estate. The wills of
Governor Joseph E. Brown and of his wife, Elizabeth Brown, who lived
in the Governorís Mansion in Milledgeville for eight years
[1857-1865] exemplify their responsibly frugal life style and their
obvious concern for the care and maintenance of their loved ones and
are the links to the images of the wills of Joseph and Elizabeth
Activity 1: Social, Political and
completion of this activity, students should be able to:
- Describe the similarities and
differences in the property possessions and the disposal of
those possessions by a man and a woman in the 19th century.
- Discuss social, political and
economic facts concerning the 19th century gained through the
reading of the wills.
Grade 4: Topics/Concepts: A11, A12 Skills: A2, A3, A6, A8, A9
Grade 8: Topics/Concepts: D20, H44, Skills: A1, A2, A4, A6, A7, A11,
A12, B14 B15
- Make a copy of the wills for each
- Divide the class into groups of
four to read the wills or allow students to independently read
- As a class, allow the students to
list similarities and differences that can be found in the
(Reminder: It was unusual for a man in this time period to allow
his wife to have as much control over his estate as Joseph Brown
granted to his wife. Upon comparison with other wills from the
same time period, men usually designated a guardian for their
wives and left the majority of their property to male heirs.
This is significant because women could not own or dispose of
property in many states in this time period. Bring to the
attention of the students that Joseph Brown's will details his
business, property and family requests while Mrs. Brown's will
mentions small favors and loved ones in detail. It is also
interesting to note the identities of the executor/executrix.)
- 4. Ask each student to identify a
social, political and economic idea that can be gathered from
the document for later class discussion and comparison.
Activity 2: Writing a Will
Upon completion of
this activity, students should be able to:
- Demonstrate creative writing
skills through historically based information.
Grade 4: Topics/Concepts: A11, A12 Skills: A2, A3, A6, A8, A9, B15
Grade 8: Topics/Concepts: D20, H44, Skills: A1, A2, A4, A6, A7,A11,
A12, B14 B15
- Ask the students to list their
favorite or prized possessions.
- Using the wills as a guide,
instruct the students to write a will using the 19th century
language found in the wills of Governor and Mrs. Brown. Remind
the students to be as specific as Mrs. Brown's will about their
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the Fourth Lesson, Sending
for the Doctor