The Plagues of History

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 11049

"I heard from someone about something they heard about ... " Does that sound like a reliable source? Learn to dig, and discover some of the most terrible diseases in history and how humanity survived!



learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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During the 14th century, the Black Death wiped out an estimated 60 percent of the population of several European cities, and yet — somehow — this grizzly plague did not extinguish humankind.

Uncover the stories of some of the most horrific diseases in history, and find out how humanity survived!

It must have seemed like the end of the world — evidence of death everywhere, the sickness advancing rapidly.

  • Where would it all lead?

Amazingly, over time, the cities rebounded. New generations were born, but new biological enemies would arise as well!

  • How do we know about these epic struggles of the past?

Historians are like detectives, but detectives working over very long periods and with all possible forms of evidence. Very often, this evidence comes along with no explanation or summary; it's up to the historian to do the hard work of piecing together the story.

Historians deal with two major kinds of evidence: primary sources and secondary sources.

  • What's the difference?

Read how to Distinguish Between Primary and Secondary Sources and gather useful information and ideas in a simple grid like this one.

  Definition Examples What questions can you ask to determine? How do these types of evidence interact to tell us about the past?
Primary Sources        
Secondary Sources        



Now think about this.

  • If you had a friend who said he had just been sick, what evidence could you observe to determine if this were true?

Make a list in your notes of the different kinds of evidence and whether each source would be considered primary or secondary.

We can use primary and secondary sources to help us uncover the frightening — and inspiring — events that happened in our collective past.

Continue on to the Got It? section to search for sources in an article!

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