Fever 1793 – Teacher’s Section

Teacher’s Guides

FEVER 1793 Teacher’s Guide following Common Core Standards by Nicole Boylan and Erin Fry

FEVER 1793 Projects, Vocabulary and Chapter Tests — Developed by Teacher Erin Ryan

Download as a PDF

Dear Parents,

The latest novel we’re reading in class is Fever 1793, by Laurie Halse Anderson. It’s a story set in Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. It follows the life of Matilda Cook, the daughter of a coffee shop owner and the dire straights of the city during the summer of 1793, when over 4,000 residents died of the fever.

To follow, please find the outline of four different activities that go along with the story. Each student will be required to complete a total of two projects to be completed at home as we read the novel. The third project will be completed in class and students will research American in the late 1700’s to create a class newspaper.

Please read through the project packet with your child and allow them to select the activities that they find the most interesting. I am more than happy to work with your child if he/she would like to create a project on his/her won. Please review the projects, complete the Activity Sign Off Sheet, and return it to me by ______________________.

The following is the timeframe for each project to be due in class:

Project 1 Due on or before
Project 2 Due on or before
Project 3 Will be completed in class

Thanks for your support and please feel free to contact me at _______________ or email me at _____________________________________if you have any questions or concerns.





Yellow Fever

Research the Yellow Fever Epidemic that struck Philadelphia in the late 1700’s. What were the causes? What happened to people who were afflicted? Doctors had differing opinions of how to treat Yellow Fever, who were two doctors who fought the disease, and how did they treat it? What medicines and cures were used? Why did it seem that African American’s were less likely to get Yellow Fever? Is Yellow Fever a “dead” disease, or is it still found around the world today? If so, where? Create an informational brochure about this dreaded disease.

The City of Brotherly Love

Research the history of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Create a timeline to teach us about people, events, and places important to the history of this city. Your timeline should be setup in decades from 1750 – 1850. You must have a minimum of 3 entries per decade, and aminimum of 1 time-appropriate photograph, or illustration per decade.

Up, Up and Away

One of the most exciting things that took place in Philadelphia in 1793 was when JeanPierre Blanchard launched the first hot air balloon to be flown in the United States. Research the history of hot air balloons and create a poster to present your findings.

The Free African Society

The Free African Society was a group of Africans who had earned their freedom fromslavery, or who had come to the north as free people. When the epidemic was plaguing the city of Philadelphia, they were rarely afflicted with the disease, and spent much of theirtime caring for the sick. Who were the founders, what were their beliefs and how did theybenefit from helping others? Learn about this important group of people in history andcreate a presentation to share what you learned with the class.

Early American Artists

Select four of the following painters and research their lives and paintings. Where were they born? Where did they live in America? What are their most famous paintings? Takevirtual tours of museums to learn more about these artists and their works. Create either one poster for all four artists or one poster per artist to bring these great art masters back to life!

Edward Hicks                  John Singleton Copley                 Gilbert Stuart

Anna Claypoole Peale      Charles Wilson Peale                  Fitz Henry Lane

Thomas Birch                   Benjamin West                           John Trumbull

You may select any American artists who lived between 1750-1850.


Internet Resources





Yellow Fever










Free African Society




Hot Air Balloons





American Artists


REMEMBER -bibliographies are required!

Fever 1793

Project Sign-Off

Project 1 Choice: _______________________________________________ Parent Signature _______________________________________________ Student Signature _______________________________________________ Teacher Signature _______________________________________________

Project 2 Choice: _______________________________________________ Parent Signature _______________________________________________ Student Signature _______________________________________________ Teacher Signature _______________________________________________

Completion of project on or before due date = 25 points
Planning, organization and thoroughness = 25 points
Overall quality and presentation of work = 20 points
Originality and creativity = 15 points
Bibliography = 5 points

Five points will be deducted daily for late projects until handed in.

FEVER 1793 Vocabulary
Ch1 Ch10
Rouse Basin
Fray Grim
Dawdle Valise
Anvil Plague
Ch2 Ch11
Grippe Vicious
Hearth Odiferous
Pestle Ch13
Apothecary Canteen
Ch3 Petticoat
Robust Flint
Peer Tinder
Peckish Abide
Ch4 Ch14
Miasma Billow
Nuisance Orderly
Fervent Reek
Condolences Melodious
Detest Stammer
Ch7 Jaundice
Unaccustomed Lancet
Damask Mutton
Bombazine Kin
Implore Snippet
Gala Nitwit
Ch8 Ch16
Purify Outskirt
Din Glazier
Toll Mason
Gumption Dowry
Dwindle Ch17
Ch9 Commotion
Fractious Threshold
Taut Recuperate
Grimy Ch25
Venture Melancholy
Scrawny Jostle
Ch19 Jolt
Trifle Putrid
Figurine Ominous
Brandish Poultice
Ch20 Burlap
Clench Fetid
Precession Fatigue
Shroud Pestilence
Spiteful Vigilant
Proclaim Haberdasher
Queasy Ch27
Jumble Gaunt
Shoo Feign
Ch21 Convey
Hoist Ch28
Rowdy Scoundrel
Ch22 Entourage
Cooper Scraggly
Rummage Ch29
Vanish Frail
Ch23 Epilogue
Solemn Burrow
Enchanted Ember
Turncoat Ruckus
Sternly Begrudge
Tantrum Solitary

Fever 1793 Project Point Sheet


Project 1 (100 points)

Teacher comments:

Project 2 (100 points)

Teacher comments:

Completion of project on or before due date = 25 points Planning, organization and thoroughness = 25 points Overall quality and presentation of work = 20 points Originality and creativity = 15 pointsNeatness and mechanics (grammar & spelling) = 10 pointsBibliography = 5 points

Five points will be deducted daily for late projects until handed in.

Welcome to Cooke’s Coffeehouse!

Apple Brown Betty is a traditional sweet cake made in the 1700’s. In Fever 1793, Mattie’s family owns the Cooke Coffeehouse and it’s one of the items they serve throughout the day.

Apple Brown Betty

3 apples, preferably Granny Smith 7 slices wheat bread 1½ sticks regular, salted butter 1½ cups packed brown sugar 3-4 tablespoons water

*Peel and thinly slice 3 apples. Slice bread into small dice, or tear in to very small pieces. *Coat a small baking dish or pie plate with butter. Then add 1/3 of the brown sugar, then 1/3 of the apple slices, then 1/3 of the bread. Repeat these layers two more times, ending with the bread. *Slice the butter and lay slices over the top of the bread. Sprinkle with a little more brown sugar. *Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake an additional 5 minutes to brown the top. *It can be served with ice cream or whipped cream.






Fever 1793 Chapters 1 – 6 Test

  1. Using details from the story, describe the bedroom that Mattie and her mother share.

  2. Why did Mattie not like the blacksmith’s shop? What did it remind her of?

  3. After seeing Blanchard’s hot air balloon take off, Mattie says that she wants to “slip free of the ropes that hold her.” What do you think she means?

  4. Who is Eliza, how did she end up in Philadelphia and what sadness does she share with Mattie’s mother? Why is she such an important member of the Cook Coffeehouse?

  5. Why did Mattie want to see Polly’s mother after she died? What did Mrs. Cook think of this idea?

  6. What were two possible reasons for the sickness in Philadelphia and what was one way people started to protect their families?

  7. Using details from the story, describe the marketplace. People, food, sights and sounds.

  8. What did the bells ringing at Christ Church signify?

  9. What did Grandfather want to do with the extra money? Mattie? Mother?





Fever 1793 Chapters 7 – 10 Test

  1. What was different about the way that Mother arrived for tea when she was young compared to how Mattie and Mother arrived at the Ogilvie mansion?
  2. Using details from the story, describe what the Ogilvie mansion looked like.
  3. How did Mattie help Eliza keep the flies out of the kitchen?
  4. What are three of the new orders from the mayor that Philadelphians were supposed to follow? Who made up the rules?

  5. What was important about the first frost of the winter?

  6. What was Grandfather’s reaction when he saw the man pushing the cart through the streets? Who was in the cart?

  7. How did Eliza feel about Mr. Rowley, and support your opinion with details from the story. What orders did he leave for the patient?

  8. Why did Mother want Mattie to leave her bedroom?

  9. What did Dr. Kerr diagnose Mother with? What did he do to help her?

  10. What did Mattie receive from Nathanial before she left for the Luddington’s?




Fever 1793 Chapters 11 – 15 Test

  1. How did Grandfather compare Mattie to her mother?
  2. What were three things that Grandfather said every soldier needs to fight?
  3. Using details from the story, describe what happened when the wagon was stopped before entering the town of Pembroke.
  4. How did Mattie know that Grandfather had a summer gripe and not yellow fever? How was Mattie able to find the stream?

  5. Using details from the story, retell Mattie’s fishing adventure.

  6. Who was Mrs. Flagg and how did she help Mattie?

  7. Using details, explain how Bush Hill had been turned into a proper hospital compared to how it had been before Mr. Girard had taken it over.

  8. How did Grandfather help out while Mattie was in the hospital?

  9. What was the task that patients at Bush Hill had to accomplish before being released?

  10. Where did the clerk suggest Mattie go when she was released from the hospital and what was Grandfather’s reaction?



Fever 1793 Chapters 16 – 20 Test

  1. Who accompanied Mattie and Grandfather on their ride to Philadelphia and where were they going?
  2. Why did Mattie think that Philadelphia looked like the “center of a dying city?” Use details from the story to support your answer.
  3. Describe what the coffeehouse looked like when Grandfather and Mattie finally returned home. What was the most important thing that had not been found and where had it been hidden?
  4. What was the first thing Mattie decided to do when she woke up her first morning home?

  5. Using details from the story, describe what happened the second night that Mattie and Grandfather were home.

  6. Describe Mattie’s actions the morning after Grandfather died. Who did she see, where did she go, and what happened to Grandfather?
  7. Why did Mattie go to see Mr. Brown at the Federal Gazette and what was his response? What are three things Mattie learned while she was there?

  8. Why did Mattie try to stop by Mrs. Warner’s house? What did she learn while she was there and what happened to her?


Fever 1793 Chapters 21 – 24 Test

  1. How did Mattie and Nell escape from the man at the tavern?

  2. When Mattie finally found Eliza, what did Mattie tell her all about? What did Mattie learn about Mother?

  3. What did Mother Smith say to scare the boys and make sure they behaved?

    _____a. She’d bring a policeman in the morning
    _____b. She’d send a ghost after them
    _____c. She’d leave them at the Orphan House
    _____d. She’d ground them in the morning

  4. What are three different ways the Free African Society helped during the Yellow Fever Epidemic?

  5. Using details, explain how Mattie thought her mother and Mother Smith were similar.

  6. Why did Mattie agree to bring Nell to the Orphan House? Using detail, explain what happened when they arrived at the Orphan House. What decision did Mattie make regarding Nell?

  7. Why did Mattie think it was harder to visit the houses of sick people than see the sick people at Bush Hill?

  8. According to Eliza and Mattie, what three groups of people profited during the plague?

  9. Why was Joseph upset when Eliza and Mattie got home? What did Mattie suggest doing and why did she make the suggestion?


Fever 1793 Chapters 25 – Epilogue Test

  1. Why did Joseph refuse to join Mattie and Eliza at the coffeehouse with the children? How did they plan on protecting themselves from thieves?

  2. Using details from the story, explain why Mattie found it difficult to take care of the children. What did Eliza do to try keeping them cool and the bugs away?

  3. Why did Mattie have more faith in the French doctors than with Dr. Rush?

    _____a. They were trained in Europe
    _____b. They had seen many epidemics in the West Indies
    _____c. They had better nurses available to help them
    _____d. They could get food and medicines sent from France

  4. Why did Mattie think it wasn’t a good idea to bring the children out after the first frost? Why did Eliza disagree?

  5. What was the marketplace like after the temperature broke and why did Mattie want to go there?

  6. How did the Peale family survive during the epidemic? What dd iNathaniel predict?

  7. What decision did Mattie make about the coffeehouse and how was it to be made official?

  8. What were two changes Mattie made to the coffeehouse after it reopened?

  9. What did Mattie learn happened to Mother during her time at the Ludington’s? How had Mother changed from her old ways?

  10. What do you predict Mattie’s life will be like now that the yellow fever epidemic is over? What will her life be like? What changes will she face and how will she become a stronger person?




Learning Unit: Fever 1793 or 2009?

Download as a PDF

Discussion Guide, Activities

Talk About It

What was Philadelphia like in 1793? What were the advantages and disadvantages of living in the countryside outside of Philadelphia?

How was the life of a 14-year-old in 1793 different from the life of a 14-year-old today? In which period would you rather live? Why?

What are the greatest advancements American society has made since then? How have we regressed?

Mattie’s grandfather didn’t think there was any need to rush out of Philadelphia when the fever started to spread. Why did some people think it was safe to stay? What would you have done?

The color yellow is used throughout the story. What does it symbolize? What other symbols are used in the book?

When does Mattie move from being a child to being a young adult?

What do you think will happen to Mattie, her mother, and friends in 1794? What will their lives look like in 1800? In 1813?

During the Revolutionary War, women took on tasks that were traditionally performed by men. After the War, they were expected to go back to their spinning wheels and kitchens. How are Mattie’s dreams in conflict with what her society expected of young women? Why did Mattie’s mother want a different life for her daughter?

The Free African Society volunteered to take care of the sick and bury the dead, even though there was no cure for yellow fever. How do you think they felt? Why did they do that? Would you have helped?

Things to do


Philadelphia was home to the largest population of free African-Americans in the United States. Research how escaped slaves made their way to Philadelphia. When did these routes become the Underground Railroad? Make a multimedia presentation using music from the late 1700s.

What year did slavery become illegal in Pennsylvania?

Language Arts

Rewrite a scene from Eliza’s point of view.

Make a list of words they used in 1793 that we don’t use today, such as "balderdash" and "bunkum." What words that we use today might sound strange and old-fashioned in the year 2200?

Write a newspaper article that Andrew Brown could run in the Federal Gazette.


Calculate how many people died in the yellow fever epidemic. Compare the mortality rate with that of the 1918 influenza epidemic and the AIDS epidemic.

Research how epidemics effect a city’s economy, including the effects on the price of food and medicine, the jobless rate, the crime rate, and travel.

Develop charts and graphs that explore the infection and mortality rate of the epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, and the global rate in modern times.


Research the work of Dr. Walter Reed. How do mosquitoes spread yellow fever? What other diseases do mosquitoes spread? Why aren’t all diseases spread this way?

What diseases cause epidemics today in the United States? What about other parts of the world?

How would doctors and scientists respond today if a mysterious disease started to spread through a major American city?

The PERFECT nonfiction companion book to Fever 1793!:

An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy

Thoroughly researched, generously illustrated with fascinating archival prints, and unflinching in its discussion of medical details, this book offers a glimpse into the conditions of American cities at the time of our nation’s birth while drawing timely parallels to modern-day epidemics.

Curriculum Links

Open Collections Program: Contagion, The Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, 1793

The Diseased City

City History Lesson

FEVER1793 Guided Questions

Dr. Benjamin Rush and bloodletting

Germantown Nurses the Yellow Fever, 1793

The Great Fever

Internet Hunt for FEVER1793

A Listening Library Study Guide

Investigating the historical fiction novel Fever by L.H. Anderson … A Powerpoint Presentation

Fever1793 Discussion Guide from Scholastic.com

Fever1793 Quiz!!

Fever1793 Study Guide and Lesson Plans for purchase

Interesting events in 1793:

  • January 9 – Jean-Pierre Blanchard becomes the first to fly in a gas balloon in the United States.
  • January 21 – After being found guilty of treason by the French Convention, Citizen Capet, (i.e., Louis XVI of France) is guillotined.
  • February 12 – first fugitive slave law passed, requiring the return of runaway slaves.
  • March 4 – George Washington is sworn in as President of the United States in Philadelphia, for his second term.
  • April 1 – The Unsen volcano erupts in Japan and causes an earthquake; about 53,000 are killed.
  • April 3 – First American circus performance is held in Philadelphia.
  • Aug 29th – Slaves in French colony of St Domingue (Haiti) freed
  • September 5 – In France, the French National Convention votes to implement terror measures to repress ‘counter-revolutionary’ activities. The ensuing Reign of Terror lasts until the spring of 1794 and causes the deaths of 35,000–40,000 people.
  • September 18 – President George Washington sets the foundation stone for the Capitol building.
  • October 28 – Eli Whitney applies for a patent for his cotton gin (the patent is granted the following March).
  • December 9 – New York City’s first daily newspaper, the American Minerva, is established by Noah Webster.
  • The British admiralty begins supplying citrus juice to Navy ships to prevent scurvy.
  • The first year of regular production begins for the United States Mint.
  • Niccolò Paganini debuts as a violin virtuoso at age 11.
  • Metric system is developed in France.
  • Mexico City’s public transportation system begins with authorization being granted for a system of single-horse carriages for hire.
  • Joseph Haydn writes:
    • String Quartets, Opp. 71 & 74 "Apponyi"
    • Variations in F minor
  • William Wordsworth tours Wales and western England, writing some of his best-known poems.

Ongoing events:

  • French Revolution (1789–1799)


  • January 3 – Lucretia Mott, American women’s rights activist and abolitionist (d. 1880)
  • March 2 – Sam Houston, President of the Republic of Texas (d. 1863)
  • November 3 – Stephen F. Austin, American pioneer (d. 1836)


  • October 8 – John Hancock, American patriot and businessman (b. 1737)


Chapter 1

stays and shift;

stay-noun            Chiefly British. A corset.

shift-noun            Clothing.

a. a straight, loose-fitting dress worn with or without a belt.

b. a woman’s chemise or slip.

“I fastened my stays and a badly embroidered pocket over the white shift I slept in.”

Chapter 2

dosed;  –verb            to treat with an application or agent.

“You should be dosed with fish oil”

victuals; –noun     food or provisions for human beings.

“If not for Eliza’s fine victuals, and the hungry customers who paid to eat them, we’d have been in the streets long ago.”

supped;  –noun  to take in small mouthfuls

“They both supped sorrow with a big spoon, that’s what Mother said.”

pestle; –noun    a tool for pounding or grinding substances in a mortar.

“Nutmeg and cinnamon perfumed the air as she ground the spices with a pestle.”

Chapter 4

miasma; -noun  a dangerous, foreboding, or deathlike influence or atmosphere.

“It’s a source of a deadly miasma, a foul stench, indeed.”

bilious; -adjective  suffering from, caused by, or attended by trouble with the bile or liver.

“Mary Shewall died soon after of a bilious fever, and one could hardly fault her character.”

Chapter 5

liebchen; -noun  German for sweetheart.

“How many eggs do you want, liebchen?”

demure; -adjective  characterized by shyness and modesty; reserved.

“I would fish like a lady, with good posture and a demure manner.”

Chapter 6

mangle; –noun   a machine for smoothing or pressing clothes, household linen.

“Grandfather watched from the shade as I cranked the wheel of the mangle.”

Chapter 8

almshouse; –noun  Chiefly British.   a house endowed by private charity for the reception and support of the aged or infirm poor.

“Isn’t that why we have an almshouse?” asked Grandfather.

pestilence; -noun   a contagious or infectious epidemic disease that is virulent and devastating.

“I tell you, William, men who stood unafraid before British cannon run in fear from this foul pestilence.”

Chapter 9

dittany; –noun  a Cretan plant, Origanum dictamnus,  of the mint family, having spikes of purple flowers and formerly believed to have medicinal qualities.

“She was supposed to drink dittany tea sweetened with molasses, but it tasted too terrible.”

Chapter 10

jalap and calomel;

“She’ll need ten grains of jalap and ten grains of calomel.”

            jalap; noun  a twining eastern Mexican vine having tuberous roots that are dried, powdered, and used medicinally as a cathartic.

calomel; – noun a white, tasteless powder, used chiefly as a purgative and fungicide.

cajoling-verb  to persuade by flattery or promises.

“No amount of cajoling would change her mind.”

Chapter 13

brambles; -noun  a prickly shrub or bush.

“I kicked the rock deep into the brambles.”

Chapter 14

slovenly; -adjective  untidy or unclean in appearance or habits.

“He fired the slovenly devils who cause all the trouble.”

Chapter 15

destitute; -adjective  without means of subsistence; lacking food, clothing, and shelter.

“They told of good people who refused to take any money for helping strangers, even though they themselves were poor and destitute.”

impudence-noun  the quality of being offensively bold.

“I shall report your impudence to the president.”

Chapter 16

Potter’s Field; -noun a place for the burial of unknown or indigent persons.

“ ’The Potter’s Field is ahead,’ Mrs. Bowles said as she pointed to the front of the line.”

Chapter 21

wraith; -noun  something shadowy and insubstantial.

“You look like a wraith.”

apothecary; -noun  one that prepares and sells drugs and other medicines.

“Are you come from the apothecary?”


Hands-on Activities & Social Action Projects

Google lit trip

Can You Save The People of Philadelphia?
This webquest by David Golod, of Todd Elementary School, will help students gain an understanding of how yellow fever was spread, the disease itself, the medical practices of the day, and the conditions in Philadelphia that led to the outbreak. The goal for the students is to find a way to save the people of the city if they were to go back in time.

Yellow Fever has not been seen in the United States since 1905, but it attacks an estimated 200,000 people a year in areas of Latin America and Africa. More than 30,000 people die from the disease annually. Doctors Without Borders /Médecins Sans Frontières is trying to stop the disease by vaccinating people at risk. You can help by fundraising. Or you can raise money for Nothing But Nets, which gives bed nets to African families that keep the mosquitoes out, which prevents both malaria and yellow fever.

  • Join the Forest!

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