Historical Narratives and “Of Plymouth Plantation” by William Bradford

Historical Narratives and
“Of Plymouth Plantation”
by William Bradford
Historical Narratives
• If you wanted to know what life was like for
someone 400 years ago, where could you
get the information?
– History books?
– Autobiography?
– Biography?
– Diaries?
Historical Narratives
• Definition: accounts of real-life historical
experiences, written by either a person
who experienced those events or
someone who studied or observed them.
• In many cases, historical narratives
become important documents.
Primary Sources
• Materials written by people who were
either participants in or observers of the
events written about.
– Letters, diaries, journals, speeches,
autobiographies, and histories.
Strategies for Reading Primary
• Determine a document’s origin
• Try to understand the perspective and
motives of the writer
• Note sensory details that depict people,
places, and events
• Identify customs, values, or conditions of
the culture or time period.
Secondary Sources
• Records of events written by people who
were not directly involved in the events
– Biographies and histories
Identifying Sources
• Are the following Primary or Secondary
– The handwritten will of a European settler in Virginia,
dated 1610
– An encyclopedia article entitled “Puritans”
– The Mayflower Compact, an agreement written and
signed by passengers on the Mayflower in 1620
– A book entitled Massachusetts Before the Pilgrims,
written in 1975
– A record of births and deaths kept by the residents of
a village in colonial Virginia
Tips for Reading Primary Sources
Reread and paraphrase unfamiliar ideas
Restate the main idea in your own words
Visualize what the author describes
Predict what will happen next
Connect the narrative to what you know
Ask questions about the narrative
Make a timeline of the events described
Puritan Beliefs
• Puritanism covered a period from
the1550s to about 1700
• Originally developed in England to “purify”
the Anglican church (or the Church of
England) of the trappings of Catholicism
Lasting Effects of Puritans
• Emphasis on
Simplicity in Worship
• Public Education
• High Moral Standards
• Democratic Political
• Puritan Ethic –
Believed good was
accomplished through
hard work, self-reliance,
and self-discipline.
Influenced industrialism
and efficiency.
Harvard University
A Separatist movement developed within the Puritans.
They had given up on “purifying” the church deciding
that only a separate movement could succeed.
Plymouth Colony
William Bradford,Governor of the Plymouth Colony
Moving first to Holland in 1607, fear of assimilation
and lack of religious fervor led them to leave for a new
land “devoyd of all civill inhabitants” in 1620. These
people we call “Pilgrims.”
William Bradford
• Elected governor after the first leader died
– Reelected fifteen times
• Helped create positive Indian relations and
democratictown hall meetings
• Began writing his narrative Of Plymouth
Plantation in 1630, but it was not
published until 1856
• Used “Puritan Plain Style”
Style of Puritan literature:
• Simple—plain writing style with a clear
statement. There is no use of pathos or
emotion to sway the reader.
• Straightforward—unembellished direct
statements, with little figurative language,
although there are frequent Biblical allusions.
• Spiritual—intended as either personal
reflection or group edification
Of Plymouth
• Non-Fiction Narrative
– Tell the story of real-life
events. Can be first-hand or
written by someone that
researched the events.
• Considered the most
complete authority on
the Puritans and a
primary document on
the time period.