Final Exam: Letter and Heirloom Final Exhibition

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Final Exam: Letter and Heirloom Final Exhibition
I have had students ask, at the beginning of the year, “What’s the point of studying history? Why do we have to learn about random dead people from 10, 20, 50, or 500 years ago? What do these people’s lives have to do with me?” I hope after a semester in this class most of your are not asking this question. But, just in case you are still quietly asking this question inside your head…history is the study of change over time. The purpose of it is to examine the choices of those who came before us to study their circumstance, their situation, their background and see what choices they made. We examine the consequences of their choices. This is the point, to use what happened before us to guide our current choices within our current circumstances.

Like most historians when I find myself wondering about something happening in my present life I try to imagine what a historical figure might tell me. In these imaginings I find support, and the truth. Most often I find myself somewhat ashamed, realizing that the problem confronting me in my time is so small in comparison to the problems faced by those at other times in history. But, always I find wisdom in their choices, their success and their failures. So, for your final, you have to as well. You will use the various individuals’ lives we have studied this semester to draw inspiration for solving problems in your life.

Before you get started:

  • Choose 2 people we have studied in world history, who will offer you wisdom.

  • Choose 1-2 problems you are wrestling with or issues you need guidance on.

Your Assignment:


  • Write 2 letters from the historical figures, where each historical figure addresses 1 problem:

    • Option 1: Choose 2 historical figures who give you advice on 2 different problems.

    • Option 2: Choose 2 historical figures who give you advice on the same problem.

  • Format:

    • Length: Each letter needs to be 1.5-2 pages long

    • 12-point font size (written or handwritten)

    • Double-spaced if it is typed, single-spaced if handwritten.

  • Set-up:

    • First - the historical figure must clearly identify the problem or struggle you’re dealing with.

      • Because we cannot see the letter you wrote to the historical figure, the historical figure must reiterate the problem and what part of the problem you need help with.

    • Second - the historical figure must offer you wisdom and advice by specifically describing (1) what happened to them, (2) what they did in history in response to what happened to them, and (3) how their advice applies to your specific situation

      • Use specific events in history we have studied and the biographies of the historical figures to make the letter historically accurate.

    • Third - the historical figure must describe an heirloom or artifact they’re willing to give you, why it was important to them, how they used it, and why they think it can help you.

      • It does not have to necessary be a real item they possessed, but still needs to be appropriate for the historical figures.

  • The letters must also capture the “voice” of the historical character. In other words you must write the letter the way the character would have and sound like they would have (Be sure to still use proper grammar).

    • Example: Communists often use the term “comrade.”

  • You also need to consider the style in which the letter should be written, an old and crinkled letter, a typed letter, hand written, typed, etc.

  • You will present one of the two letters to the class on the day of your final.

The Heirloom or Artifact (Something the historical figure is passing down to you):

  • Create an artifact, or heirloom, that the historical figure would give you to remind you of the wisdom they wrote to you about.

    • They are passing this object on to you for inspiration so it should be symbolic of what they dealt with in life or what they believed in.

  • For both letters choose and describe an heirloom.

    • For one of the letters you will need to make and present the artifact itself.

      • Exhibit the heirloom before the class in the formal presentation setting.

  • The artifact or heirloom, must be at least 60% handmade by you.

Due Dates:

Monday, December 7, 2009: Write a letter telling about and seeking advice about one or two problems you have going on in your life.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009: Turn in “Letter and Heirloom Final Exhibition Plan” with the names of the historical figure(s) and the problem they are helping you with.
Friday, December 11, 2009: Fill out and turn-in the rest of the “Letter and Heirloom Final Exhibition Plan,” with the information on the heirloom.
Monday, December 14, 2009: Turn in your rough draft of letter #1 and letter #2 (must be at least 1.5 pages each). *In class time in computer lab*
Tuesday December 15, 2009: Turn in the final version of letter #1.
(Some students will be presenting this day. These students will receive 10 extra credit points in their final category for presenting early.
Day of Final: Turn in 2 copies of final version of letter #2 and artifact (for one of the letters).


Turn in the following to make the Rockstar (AKA I turned everything in) list:

  • Completed “Letter and Heirloom Final Exhibition Plan”

  • Rough drafts for letters 1 & 2

  • 1 copy of the final version of letter 1

  • 2 copies of the final version of letter 2 (or whichever letter you plan to read aloud)

  • An artifact for the letter you plan on reading aloud.

Choose From the Following Historical Figures (you will need my approval you someone else in mind):




John Locke

Thomas Hobbes

Mary Wollstonecraft

Jean Jacques Rousseau

Baron de Montesquieu

Thomas Jefferson

Simon Bolivar.

Karl Marx

Mary Antoinette

Queen Elizabeth I

King Louis XIV

King Louis XVI

Louis de Saint-Just


Claire Lacombe

Olympe de Gouges

Camille Desmoulins

Madame Roland

Pauline Leon

Jaque Billaud-Varenne

Comte de Mirabeau

Jean Sylvain Bailly

Pierre Vergniaud


Marquis De Lafayette

Theroigne De Mericourt

Abbe Sieyes

Jacques Necker

Duc De Orleans



Bishop Talleyrand

Toussaint L'Ouverture

Thomas Malthus

Charles Darwin


Thomas More

Charles Dickens

King William

Queen Mary

Nicholas II

Alexander Sazonov

Ivan Goremykin

Nikolai Maklakov

Peter Wrangel

Anton Denikin

Alexander Kolchak

Lavr Kornilov

Nikolai Yudenich

Felix Yusupov

Sergei Zubatov

Peter Struve

Maria Bochkareva

Anna Shabanova

Ariadna Tyrkova

Vladimir Antonov-Ovseenko

Victor Chernov

Julius Martov

Fedor Dan

Alexander Kerensky

Alexander Protopopov

Alexander Guchkov

Paul Milyukov

Michael Rodzianko

Leon Trotsky

Irakli Tsereteli

Nikolai Sukhanov

Alexandra Kollontai

Catherine Breshkovskaya

Maria Spirdonova

Vera Zasulich

Vera Figner

Elizabeth Kovalskaia

Praskovia Ivanovskia

Olga Liubatovich

Vladimir Lenin

Nickolai Bukharin

Alexander Shlyapnikov

Mikhail Frunze

Lev Kamenev

Gregory Zinoviev

Inessa Armand

Nadezhda Krupskaya

Elena Stasova

Rosa Luxemburg

Louise Bryant

Any of the artists from the realism period

Examples of problems/struggles:

Peer pressure to do something you don’t want to do

Trouble finding something you are passionate about

Parent conflicts

Sibling rivalry

Fear of something

Inability to reach a goal you have

A problem you think might come up in your future


Anger about something

Doing poorly in school

Dealing with loss

Lack of self-esteem


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