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Pirates and Power: Home

Materials for a hands-on learning activity from QUEST 1: Pirates and Power



How have pirates been described through the ages, and how have those perceptions changed? UF's Special and Area Studies collections contains a wide range of materials dealing with the history, lore, and punishment of piracy, from printed books made during the period of Atlantic exploration to the portrayals of pirates in film and media.

Specific Learning Outcomes

The QUEST course's Capstone Requirement is for students to prepare an analytical essay contrasting a work of fiction or contemporary culture with historical sources. This course visit introduces students to a range of historical and popular materials on the history of piracy, encourages them to compare primary sources from different places and times, and allows for in-depth, small group discussion of a selection of source materials.

Contact Time: 50 minutes

Class Size: 25 - 50 students per section (Discussion groups of larger class visiting with their TAs)

Class Level: Introductory. The instructors assume no prior knowledge of the materials on display or the handling and use of special collections. Materials should be selected that do not require extensive time to contextualize or a large amount of manipulation.

Other options

Intermediate - Assumes that the class (or a large part of it) has familiarity visiting the collections and may have some relevant background knowledge in the general area of the materials. Allows for the selection of more complex or more contextual materials, might be a follow-up activity for an introductory visit.

Expert - Requires either background knowledge on the specific materials chosen or facility working with collections. Students at this level would be able to select and contextualize their own materials with assistance from the collection manager or course instructor.

Hands-on Learning Activities

Choose Your Own Adventure: Interpreting a Primary Source

Students break into small groups of 5 and closely examine one of the sources on display with one of the course instructors. As you examine the source,

  • How easy is the source to read? What does it say?
  • When was it made, and for whom?
  • How is it using ideas about piracy? How specific are its portrayals?

Learning Outcomes

Students should be more comfortable with interpreting and reading historical sources.

Ideas and approaches that can be applied to other source materials for their capstone project.


Activity Materials

[worksheets or guidelines would go here]

A selection of materials used in previous visits are available in the gallery below.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Ye Charte of True Locations of Sunken Treasure (1965)

This map is one of dozens printed and sold in the US after World War II. What ties to history does it try to establish?

Ballad: Verses Composed by Captain Henry Every

A London Ballad (c.1696) on the Exploits of Captain Henry Avery

Ballads were some of the cheapest ways to spread news, entertainment, and gossip in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. What might a reader (or listener) learn from this song?

Engraved Portrait of

Roche Braziliano and the Manners of Pirates

Alexander Esquemelin's biographies of pirates contain his observations of their behavior. What characteristics does he give to Roche (or Roc) the Brazilian? The full account is here.

Introductory Materials

During the first part of the visit, students were introduced to the materials by curators and heard a general overview of the collections and our holding areas. These are intended to give a sense of the content of the class session. They are not an exact or all-encompassing list of what can be found to use in the class.

Materials Overview

Representative samples of the genres of material and collections that hold resources for the class. Click the thumbnail to view the full slideshow.


Rare Books in the History of Piracy

A recorded introduction to the early histories used in this visit.

Curator of Rare Books

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Neil Weijer
200G Smathers Library
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