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Tobacco: Field Laborers

Subject: Eighth-grade, Social Studies
Written by:
Seth Brown and Sam Newell, Pitt County Schools, Greenville, NC

Lesson Plan Format


Using a picture of a tobacco laborer, students will write a story describing a day’s work for an average tobacco field hand in the early 20th century.



Competency Goal 5: The learner will evaluate the impact of political, economic, social and technological changes on life in North Carolina from 1870 to 1930.

Objective 5.01: Identify the role played by the agriculture, textile, tobacco, and furniture industries in North Carolina, and analyze their importance in the economic development of the state.

Skill Competency Goal 2: The learner will acquire strategies to access a variety of sources, and use appropriate research skills to gather, synthesize, and report information using diverse modalities to demonstrate the knowledge acquired.

Objective 2.02: Explore print and non-print materials.

Time Required for Lesson:
One class period.

Materials/Supplies Needed:
Access to the Internet and the Eastern North Carolina Digital History Exhibits; pencils and paper.

Recommended Digital Resources:

[Unidentified Men in a Pitt County Tobacco Field] (

Lesson Plan Format

Focus and Review:
Review the information gathered from the Exploring Tobacco Culture lesson earlier in this unit. Discuss the steps required in growing tobacco and the hardships that may be part of the daily life of a tobacco worker.

Statement of Objectives/Inquiry Formation:
Students will write a story describing a day’s work for an average tobacco field hand in the early 20th century based on a picture of a tobacco worker in a field.

Teacher Input:
Teacher will demonstrate how to navigate the Eastern North Carolina Digital History Exhibit web page ( Students will click on the Tobacco Exhibit link; click on the Records/Photo link; click on the [Unidentified Men in a Pitt County Tobacco Field] link. The teacher will discuss important aspects of the photo, such as the vast expanse of tobacco, the lack of machinery, and the weather.

Individual Activities:
Students will create a story about one day in the life of one of the men in the photo. They should include observations from their notes on previous lesson on tobacco culture.

Reflection and Closure:
Students should share stories and what surprised them about life in an early 20th century agricultural society.

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Page Updated 01 September 2004
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