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Stuart Wexler

Demographic Profiles

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I teach AP Government and World Studies on the high school level in NJ, I was a web programmer. I have an interest in teaching, history and the Kennedy Assassination. I have presented at numerous JFK assassination conventions, including the Wecht conference.

I've seen something you have proposed that resembles something I want to do with my classes. This will be my second year of teaching World Studies. We go from the Renaissance to WWI. In my U.S. I class last year, at the end of the year, I started to assign my class demographic profiles based on statistics on, for instance, the U.S. Civil War. I would proportionally divide the class up, for example, into North and South, age, occupation, etc. I want to expand this into a full-blown simulation similar to some of the ideas I've seen proposed on your forum. Namely, I want to do something like take demographic information on Germany during the early 16th century, and divide the class up proportionally. I would do the same thing for other events, like France during the French Revolution. I would then not only have the class draw general impressions on the populations of the time, but then develop a series of lessons that use role play based on those demographics. That being said, I need to know if and how and where I could find even semi-reliable statistical information covering a whole range of time periods, events, etc.

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I don’t know of a website or book that provides this sort of background information. I would have thought it would have been better to have used real people for this proposed simulation. For example, there are 258 biographies on my website on the Civil War:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcivilwarC.htm

You will also find similar numbers for any simulations on the two wars.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWW.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WW.htm

I cannot help you with the Renaissance or the French Revolution but I am sure there are websites out there that will provide you with the necessary biographies.

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I don’t know of a website or book that provides this sort of background information. I would have thought it would have been better to have used real people for this proposed simulation. For example, there are 258 biographies on my website on the Civil War:

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAcivilwarC.htm

You will also find similar numbers for any simulations on the two wars.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/FWW.htm

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WW.htm

I cannot help you with the Renaissance or the French Revolution but I am sure there are websites out there that will provide you with the necessary biographies.

Hi John,

I appreciate your suggestion and, in fact, this is a part of the concept. I did what we call a "meeting of the minds" that involved taking actual figures and having them interact, answer questions, etc. That would be a factor here too, but I want to keep to the overall demographic idea for a few reasons:

1) One thing I want to stress to my students is that everyday people contribute to history. I was surprised when I did a project on social history with my US I kids how many students felt that history should ONLY be G. Washington, Robert E. Lee, etc.

2) I think that the demography provides a frame-of-reference which is very helpful at the beginning of the lesson; especially if you build on the activity and have students research housing, living conditions, etc.

3) I think the demography allows for a more easily manageable roleplaying day; I think it would be a case of too many "sheriffs in town" if I took the "key figures" beyond 5.

I have and will make use of your site; it is one of the most helpful on the web. That is part of the reason why I'm here asking the question. I'm hoping someone can help me find books or web sites or textbook references that help give a general profile of the given time periods.

Thanks again,.

Stu

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