Teaching Cleveland
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High School Edition: 9-12

Lesson 11

The Art of Letter Writing in Mid-Nineteenth Century America

OBJECTIVES:

To acquaint students with the importance of the art of letter writing, as a form of communication in mid-nineteenth century America.

INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS:

TERMS: assiduities, enquiries, diffident, lucrative

LESSON FOCUS:

  1. Why was the writing of letters in mid-nineteenth century America an important form of communication?
  2. Why was letter writing considered an art?

TEACHING PROCEDURE:

  1. General Instructions: Review all vocabulary terms with which the student might not be familiar.
  2. Have students read the examples and answer the following questions for discussion:
    a. What forms of communication were available to the average person during the mid-nineteenth century?
    b. Why did people write such formal letters?
    c. Do you think the reasons for making the request given in the letter to borrow money were valid?
    d. Do you think the replies to the request to borrow money were clear?
    e. Why do you think the man in the letter to the young lady wanted to write to her before he confronted her in person?
    f. What was the young lady really saying in her reply?
    g. Why do you think the art of letter writing has almost disappeared in America today?
  3. Write a formal letter using the style of the mid-nineteenth century, asking to borrow money from a close friend or relative. Remember that you must express the reasons for making the request. Share your letter with another student in the class, who will write a formal reply, either agreeing to lend you money or not.
  4. Write a formal letter to a male or female friend using the style of the mid-nineteenth century, asking them to go out on a date. Give the letter to another member of the class, who will write a formal reply.

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