American Experience: The Pilgrims | Collection

Expand/Collapse American Experience: The Pilgrims | Collection


In 1620, the merchant ship Mayflower carried 102 colonists, traditionally known as the Pilgrims, from England to Cape Cod. After a harrowing 66-day journey, the Pilgrims faced exposure, disease, and death in an unfamiliar land. Two key pacts, one a civil contract among the male passengers, and the other an alliance between Plymouth and ten Native communities surrounding their plantation, helped secure the Pilgrims’ future in New England. The media resources in this collection feature historical reenactments and expert interviews that tell the Pilgrims’ story from both European and Native perspectives. 

  • The Pilgrims: Mayflower Compact

    Discover why most of the Mayflower's male passengers signed an historic agreement, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. In September 1620, religious dissenters, called "Separatists" by their detractors, were joined aboard the Mayflower by other English colonists recruited by the project's financial backers. Many of these newcomers did not share the Separatists' religious zeal. The ship set sail for America at a time of year when Atlantic storms were perilous. The Mayflower made landfall 66 days later. With tensions threatening to divide the passengers, a social compact was drafted and signed before going ashore. All signers would submit to the government created, officers elected, and laws drafted. 

    Click on the links below to download customizable student handouts and a background essay for this resource.

    Before You Watch | While You Watch | After You Watch | Vocabulary | All-In-One Handout | Background Essay |

    See Support Materials for Teaching Tips and links to related materials. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

     

    Grades: 5-12
  • The Pilgrims: Alliance with Massasoit’s People and the First Thanksgiving

    Discover what led Massasoit, the leader of one Wampanoag village, to form an alliance with the Plymouth colony and learn about the harvest feast now called the "First Thanksgiving," in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. In March 1621, a Native man named Samoset entered Plymouth and greeted the Pilgrims in English. Six days later, he returned to Plymouth with Massasoit and 60 armed men. Massasoit and Governor John Carver concluded an alliance of mutual defense. During the late summer or early fall, 52 colonists and some 90 Wampanoags celebrated Plymouth’s first successful harvest. 

    Click on the links below to download a customizable student handout, video transcript, and links to related content.

    Student HandoutTranscript | Related Links

    See Support Materials for Teaching Tips. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

    Grades: 2-5
  • The Pilgrims: European Plague in Native New England, 1616-1619

    Hear from Native historians about epidemics that devastated the Northeast coast before the Mayflower arrived, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. In 1616, devastating diseases carried by European fishermen and traders swept down the Maine coast into Massachusetts. In some affected Native communities, between 50 and 90 percent of the population died. Tisquantum, a Wampanoag man kidnapped from the village of Patuxet in 1614, returned five years later to find it empty. The few survivors lived in other communities. When the Pilgrims arrived, they judged Patuxet’s desolation to be “God’s providence” and settled there.

    Click on the links below to download a customizable student handout and a video transcript.

    Student Handout | Transcript

    See Support Materials for Teaching Tips and links to related materials. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Pilgrims: William Bradford

    Examine the events that informed the spirituality of young William Bradford, what drew him to the Separatist movement, and what eventually led him and the other Pilgrims to America, where he would serve as governor of Plymouth Colony, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. As a boy, Bradford took solace in the Bible after much of his family died. Inspired by a passage that suggested that God is accessible, and that a small congregation of people can find their way to God, Bradford later joined with other Separatists to immigrate to America in a quest for religious freedom. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

    Click on the links below to download a Background Essay, customizable Teaching Tips, and a video transcript for this resource.

    Background EssayTeaching Tips | Transcript

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Pilgrims: The Origins of Separatism

    Learn about the origin of the religious movement that led the Pilgrims to America and how Separatist views were informed by John Calvin and Martin Luther, in this DVD extra from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. Calvin, who believed that God was omnipotent, incited a movement to find out the way God wanted things to be. This was an entirely new basis for Christianity. The Pilgrims found in certain books of the Bible the way they thought Christians should live. Consistent with Luther’s view, they interpreted a non-hierarchical model for a church. In place of clergy, small communities of people, all equal, would gather voluntarily to do what they thought was the bidding of Christ. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

    Click on the links below to download customizable Teaching Tips and a video transcript for this resource.

    Teaching Tips | Transcript

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Pilgrims: Native American Relationship to the Land

    Explore differences in historical perspectives with respect to Native Americans and the land at the time the Plymouth Colony was established, in this adapted DVD extra from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. A Native anthropologist disputes a prominent 17th-century English text that describes Native people as “heathens” and “not industrious,” and their land as “spacious and void.” Historian Linda Coombs describes how Native people lived and moved over the land, taking what they needed without destroying it. The English text and a contemporary analysis written by Plimoth Plantation historians are included in Support Materials. Teaching Tips offer suggestions for how to integrate the resources into your teaching. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

    Click on the links below to download customizable Teaching Tips and a video transcript for this resource.

    Teaching Tips Transcript

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Pilgrims: The First Winter

    Experience the Mayflower’s arrival in November 1620 and learn about the Pilgrims’ first winter, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. With passengers and crew weakened by the voyage and weeks exploring Cape Cod, the Mayflower anchored in Plymouth harbor in late December 1620. After ferrying supplies to land, the Pilgrims began building a common house for shelter and to store their goods. The weather worsened, and exposure and infections took their toll. By the spring of 1621, about half of the Mayflower’s passengers and crew had died.

    Click on the links below to download a customizable student handout and a video transcript.

    Student HandoutTranscript

    See Support Materials for Teaching Tips and links to related materials. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

    Grades: 4-6
  • The Pilgrims: The Beaver Trade and Colonial New England

    Discover the role that the beaver trade played in populating 17th-century New England, and the differences between the Mayflower Pilgrims and the Puritans who came in their wake, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. While Plymouth’s London-based investors filed for bankruptcy in 1626, Plymouth’s bleak prospects soon turned for the better. The demand for beaver skins rose when England found itself at war with France and Spain, and beaver fur used for popular hats became more scarce in Europe. The business model the Pilgrims developed inspired an influx of Puritan immigrants to America. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

    Click on the links below to download a background essay, customizable Teaching Tips, and a video transcript for this resource.

    Background Essay | Teaching Tips | Transcript

    Grades: 6-12
  • The Pilgrims: Mayflower Descendants

    Learn about John Howland, a Mayflower passenger and indentured servant, whose numerous descendants include Ralph Waldo Emerson and both George Bushes, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Pilgrims. During the Mayflower’s Atlantic crossing, Howland was thrown overboard in a storm. He managed to grab hold of a line and was rescued by the crew. Although he nearly died that day, he would later thrive in New England. He married Elizabeth Tilley, and together they had 10 children. More than two million Americans would descend from them, among them U.S. presidents and Hollywood actors.

    Click on the links below to download a customizable student handout and a video transcript.

    Student HandoutTranscript

    See Support Materials for Teaching Tips and links to related materials. This resource is part of the American Experience: The Pilgrims collection.

    Grades: 3-5

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Producer: Steeplechase Films
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