On the Water Learning Resources

Life at Sea—1680 to 1806


In order to better understand events and people of the past, historians examine many different types of primary sources. Government records, letters, photographs and artifacts are just a few examples of primary sources.

First-person narratives are a very valuable type of primary source since they are the words of people who actually lived through the events they speak of. The audio recordings you will hear are dramatic readings of first-person accounts written by real people of the time periods shown.

For Teachers

Download the Overview PDF for teachers. (PDF)

Each narrative also includes a teacher guide with the discussion questions, tips for integrating the resources into your classroom, and full-page images of each of the supporting primary sources.

Download the lesson for Joseph Hawkins. (PDF)
Download the lesson for Samuel Kelly. (PDF)
Download the lesson for Olaudah Equiano. (PDF)
Download the lesson for Louisa Susannah Wells. (PDF)
Download the lesson for John Jea. (PDF)

Webliography: http://americanhistory.si.edu/onthewater/info/webliography.html

Listen to the stories below
  • 1806
  • John Jea
  • African American Preacher and Sailor