This web-based project supports an inquiry-based approach to history through the lens of an intriguing historical episode; Lizzie Borden was accused of killing her father and step-mother, Andrew and Abby Borden of Fall River, Massachusetts on August 4, 1892. The system was built by the Center for Educational Software Development. Lizzie was tried and acquitted, though much of the existing evidence pointed to her as the perpetrator.
By studying primary sources from the time of the murders and trial, students come to understand the history of a troubled family. By widening that study to life in Fall River during the Gilded Age, many important aspects of family, social, labor, political and economic history come into focus. Students learn to read and interpret primary source documents, many digitized and made available on the website companion for the course. Maps,photos, illustrations, census and other demographic records, business and probate records are all organized to support an investigative approach to this event and its broader historical context. Students use these sources to develop and argue original theses about life in Fall River during this era. The website offers interactive exercises to support these course activities.
While originally designed to support undergraduate courses, an expanded version of the website invites exploration by a wide audience, including K-12 classes and the general public. For more information and a tour of the site, see: Lizzie Borden Inductive Approaches to History Website
Authors / Developers
The Lizzie Borden history website was developed and is supported by the Center for Educational Software Development (CESD). Additional funding for this project was provided by Five Colleges, Inc. and by professional grants from the UMass President's Office. .