Sugar was the mainstay of the Crucian economy until the 1960s. The crop was also cultivated throughout St. Thomas and St. John until the second half of the nineteenth century. This painting depicts the primary physical features of a typical sugar plantation estate: laborers in the cane fields, the windmill, the factory, the great house complex, and the workers’ village. A dirt road connects the property to the town of Christiansted, where the sugar and rum will be weighed and shipped overseas. At the time of the painting, Mary’s Fancy comprised 300 acres and was owned by George Ryan.
In this activity, students will use questions to examine a painting of Mary’s Fancy on St. Croix. They will use the scene depicted in the painting to consider what life was like for the people that were freed by Emancipation in 1848. Students will use a current map of St. Croix to locate Mary’s Fancy. They will discuss when the painting was made, and research the provisional Labor Act of 1849.
Primary Sources in this Activity
Suggested Teaching Instructions
The teacher can introduce students to the definition of primary source as needed and discuss how artwork can be a primary source.
Load the artwork onto an interactive smart board and have students make observations together. If there is not a smart board, students can work in small groups at computers.
Also load the Analyze Artwork worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through discussing their answers to questions on the worksheet.
Analyze the Primary Source
You may load the Analyze Artwork worksheet on the smart board or on computers so that you can lead students through answering the questions, print the worksheet and distribute to your students, or adapt the questions from the worksheet to create your own. Primary Source Analysis Worksheets
Have students complete the analyze artwork worksheet individually, in small groups, or as a class. Help students as needed to complete the worksheets. Review their answers and the observations as a class.