Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut is a fantastic classroom resource for middle-school students. Venture’s story is both exciting and engaging, and this book makes it accessible for middle-school students across the state. I teach a local history class on Venture Smith at Stonington High School. High school students are entranced and engaged by Venture’s life story, and they love the way it is interwoven into their local history. Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut makes this same connection available to all middle school students in Connecticut. I highly recommend it.

Nancy H. Steenburg, Ph.D., University of Connecticut; project historian for the Stonington Historical Society's Venture Smith project

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2020 Connecticut Center for the Book Finalist for "The Spirit of Connecticut" Award

Students learn about Connecticut's founding through the real life of Venture Smith

In this true story of freedom first published in 1798, Connecticut's Venture Smith tells students about his rise from slavery to become a successful farmer, fisherman, and trader in the American Revolutionary era.

Venture Smith’s Colonial Connecticut provides teachers and students alike with a riveting, first-hand account of what life was really like for a person of color in colonial Connecticut. It delivers an alternative perspective of American history other than the traditional upper class, white male viewpoint so prevalent in our 19th century town histories. Venture Smith is a role model for all Americans, and this book should be read not only by middle school students and their teachers, but by everyone.
Lucianne Lavin, Ph.D., Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington, Connecticut, director of archaeological excavations at The Venture Smith Archaeological Site in Haddam Neck, Connecticut, and co-author of The Venture Smith Homestead.

  • ELA - Two types of non-fiction text including Smith's first person narrative published in 1798
  • Social Studies - Designed for the State of Connecticut Social Studies Frameworks for grade 5, "Early United States History;" suitable for grades 5 - 8
  • Local history -  Uses a true Connecticut story to illustrate national themes
  • Diverse Perspectives - Integrates African American and Native American history into the story of the founding of Connecticut
  • COMPLETE inquiry-based curriculum OR use our 1 - 2 class period lesson plans
    • ELA: Learning about Autobiography Through Venture Smith's Narrative. Why do people write their autobiographies and what does it help us understand? How can we use our life stories to address issues we care about?
    • Social Studies: Valuing Land in the Colonial Period. How did people value and shape land in colonial Connecticut? What can we learn from Native American and colonial settler ideas about land and how can that inform our actions today?
    • Social Studies: The Colonial Economy. In what ways, and for whom, was Connecticut a land of economic opportunity during the colonial period?
  • NEW: Read-along videos for every chapter! Parts I & II read by Dr. Benjamin Foster; parts III & IV by author Elizabeth Normen
    • Click HERE for more about Dr. Benjamin Foster and his endorsement of Venture Smith's Colonial Connecticut

READ MORE including what kids are saying about Venture Smith's Colonial Connecticut


Available to Educators in Print, Online — or Both!

Available to the public, too! Click HERE to buy a print copy


Listen WNPR's Where We Live interview with author Elizabeth Normen


Click on the sample (button at left) to see the full table of contents. 


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