Students watch a video about women homesteaders in Montana. They learn about Esther Strasburger who, with her two sisters, adapted to life during and after the homesteader boom. They then answer questions about women homesteaders.
This lesson is part of "Great States: Montana | Unit 6: Settlement & Migration to Montana," a study of how and why Montana attracted diverse settlement.
4.1: Identify and use various sources of information (e.g., artifacts, diaries, photographs, charts, biographies, paintings, architecture, songs) to develop an understanding of the past.
4.3: Examine biographies, stories, narratives, and folk tales to understand the lives of ordinary people and extraordinary people, place them in time and context, and explain their relationship to important historical events.
6.4: Identify characteristics of American Indian tribes and other cultural groups in Montana.
Helena District 6.4: Identify characteristics of cultural groups in Montana (American Indians, Irish, Scandinavians, Italians, miners, women, ranchers, etc.).
- Video: Montana Mosaic: Women Homesteaders in Montana
- An interactive whiteboard, projector, or another type of screen to show videos to the class
- Class set of Esther Strasburger handout
- Index cards (optional)
Explain that the homesteading opportunity was not limited to men. This opportunity was unique for women at the time, and there were many women homesteaders in Montana. Many of these women were trained in professions such as teaching or nursing. Many made successes of their homesteads and changed the face of Montana.
Distribute the Esther Strasburger handout to students. Tell students they will learn more about her story as a woman homesteader in the video, and should take notes as they watch.
Play the video, Montana Mosaic: Women Homesteaders in Montana. [4:38]
Explain that after the homestead boom, people had to find new ways to live. Farms were still there, but other opportunities needed to be found. Some jobs included teaching or running stores.
Have students answer questions on the handout.
Extend the lesson (15 minutes):
Instruct students to create a postcard to a friend. Have students imagine that they are homesteading in Montana. In the postcard, have students describe a woman homesteader who helped them in some way. Draw a picture to illustrate the story on one side of the card.
They were teachers, farmers, postmasters, nurses [1:14, 1:28, 2:50, 3:30]
Hard working, independent, self-sufficient, successful, adventurous, determined