Resources for Schools

Brass City Life

Web Based Exhibit and Curriculum (shortcut to lesson plans)

Mattatuck Museum

The set of materials included here is designed to help you and your students navigate the online web exhibit, "Brass City Life" ( This unit offers you and your students an opportunity to gain a greater understanding of Waterbury and its many neighborhoods. Through map exercises, group work, reading and writing, your students will become familiar with some of the many histories of Waterbury and its inhabitants.

This curriculum is geared towards the age group of 10-14 but can be adjusted based on your students' capabilities and interests. Based on the pedagogical needs of this age group, this project was developed as a series of independent thinking exercises. As such, the questions within each lesson often do not have one right answer--they could be numerous. This allows the students the opportunity to research and investigate in multiple ways and places and also encourages them to use skills of deduction and comparison in justifying their answers while still engaging historical fact.

All lessons attempt to not only inform the students on local situations and history but also to incorporate larger national and global issues of immigration, race, labor, and culture. We recognize that many of the issues facing the American city transcend locality and it is with that in mind that we stretch the possibilities of this curriculum's use to regions outside of Waterbury, outside of Connecticut, and outside of New England.

We hope as you travel through this unit that you will bring your own perspectives and experiences to these lessons. Feel free to alter them to the needs of your students and their curricular development.

Good luck and have a great time in the Brass City.

Marie Galbraith
Executive Director
Mattatuck Museum

Theresa J. Biagiarelli
Director of Education
Mattatuck Museum

Shana L. Redmond
Curriculum Development Intern
Mattatuck Museum

Description of Lessons for "Brass City Life" website

  1. "Introduction to 'Brass City Life'" (HW)
    • This lesson acquaints the students with the website and the content of the unit.
  2. "A Year in the Life" (2 sessions)
    • This lesson provides a snapshot of a particular year for the students as they find information on the website and then write an historical fiction of those events.
  3. "You Have to Live in Somebody Else's Country to Understand" (from
    • This lesson is from PBS and develops a discussion amongst the students on contemporary immigration and acceptance within their own classroom.
  4. "Italian Immigrant Narrative" (HW)
    • This lesson focuses on the experiences of Italian immigrants through readings of first-hand narrative.
  5. "Food and Family in Waterbury" (HW)
    • This lesson is focused around food and shows the students how their families participate in ethnic traditions in their homes.
  6. "Where Would You Live?: Waterbury in 1920"
    • This lesson encourages students to use the website and their analytical skill to negotiate the neighborhoods of Waterbury in 1920 from the viewpoint of a particular ethnicity.
  7. "Waterbury by Design" (HW)
    • This lesson challenges the students to design the exterior and interior of a home in Waterbury (including their own) based on historical information.
  8. "A Different Generation of (Im)Migrants: Non-Ethnics Come to Waterbury"
    • This lesson takes a more contemporary look at the immigration and community formations of Waterbury by looking primarily at Latino and Black immigration to the city in the last 50 years.
  9. "Jobs in Waterbury" (HW)
    • This lesson focuses on the changes in job opportunities in Waterbury and how that has affected the city and its inhabitants.
  10. "Gathering Places" (HW)
    • This lesson highlights the historical practice of exclusion in the country and shows the students the value of freedom of movement and association.
  11. "Community Organizations" (2 sessions)
    • This lesson discusses the importance of organizations/groups to the communities in Waterbury and gives the students the opportunity to develop one of their own.
  12. "Traditions in Waterbury" (2 sessions, HW)
    • This lesson shows the students how different groups of people participate in tradition and what it means for their families and communities.
  13. "Shared Experiences"
    • This lesson seeks to bring students together over their commonalities while also showing the uniqueness of their personal experiences.

HW = Homework Assignment

Supplementary Materials