TEACHER’S NOTES –
These notes are intended to make you aware of noted issues with This Country of Ours and to help you to correct or counter-balance them when reading or discussing the book with your child. Occasionally you will need to edit the material, omitting or replacing a short section. More often you will need to add information. With the help of these notes, you should find that This Country of Ours is a living book you can use with confidence.
This Country of Ours has been chosen for its combination of narrative style with historical detail. It is very much a living book and as yet we have been unable to find a comparable Catholic text.
The content of This Country of Ours is not in itself particularly problematic for Catholics, but it is short on specifically Catholic aspects of American history. This is why we have added The Catholic Faith Comes to the Americas as a supplement.
About This Country of Ours –
This book was published in 1917. It was written by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (H.E. Marshall), who was born in Scotland and lived much of her life in London and at Oxford. During the time Miss Marshall was living and writing, the British Empire covered vast areas of the globe. This book tells the story of the United States, beginning not with the Native Americans who had lived for centuries on the continent we now call North America, but with the explorers from the Old World, from Europe. The book tells of the accomplishments of courageous, clever, and strong men (and a few women) who formed the colonies that became the states that became the nation we have today.
It generally describes the Native Americans as uncivilized, savage, and cruel. As you are reading, ask yourself why it might be important to a white European woman writing for children of European descent in England or the United States to think of Native Americans in this way. What does it tell them about the land and the people and the nation they were then? What do we think about the land and the people and the nation we are today?
The author, H.E.Marshall, wrote from a Protestant perspective. Nothing in her writing suggests that she had any deliberate intent to be anti-Catholic, but she is clearly influenced by her Protestant background and the truth as she understood it. The benefits of using this book outweigh any disadvantages which can be easily offset by discussion and judicious editing.
Study Guide –
Jill Papsdorf has written an extensive and thorough Study Guide that accompanies This Country of Ours for Mater Amabilis. She graciously makes it available for all users of Mater Amabilis with the following copyright and conditions:
©2020 Jill Papsdorf and Mater AmabilisTM. All rights reserved.
This Study Guide is designed by Jill Papsdorf. All primary rights to materials are to the designer. Any redistribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited other than the following:
• You may print or download to local hard disk extracts for your personal homeschool and non-commercial use only.
• You may not, except with our expressed written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content, nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other forms of the electronic retrieval system.
Please note maps and images used in this document under the fair use principle for educational purposes. When possible, images in the public domain or licensed through Creative Commons were selected.
This study guide provides maps to help frame the stories you will read in This Country of Ours. It will also prompt you to return to these kinds of questions as you are reading.
While This Country of Ours is a substantial text, ideally you should also try to read at least one of the recommended reading books each term to get the fullest picture of American history. However, if this book is all you manage to read, your child will still have a good grounding in the history of The United States.
The United States and its Territories
Before beginning This Country of Ours it would be a good idea to look at a map with your child and become familiar with the geography of the United States.
Chapter 9: How the Spaniards Drove the French out of Florida
You may want to skip this chapter. At the very least you will want to pre-read it. While it does seem to be historically accurate it is rather graphic and depicts behavior from Catholics that children of this age do not need to read about.
Chapter 56: The Darkest Hour –Trenton and Princeton
We have found that some editions of TCOO have the date wrong for Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. It should be 1776, not 1771.
Chapter 67: Jefferson–How the Door to the Far West Was Opened
In this chapter about the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Sacagawea is not mentioned at all. You will want to add additional reading here.
If you would prefer not to use this text, there are alternatives for this level (these alternatives are not Catholic):
- Stories of Great Americans for Little Americans
- A First Book in American History by Edward Eggleston
- American History Stories, Volumes I-IV by Mara L. Pratt
- Little Stories of Well-Known Americans and Little Stories of a Big Country by Laura Large
- The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and the Great Republic by H.A. Guerber