Episode 14: Edna West Teall & Maple Sugaring

Edna West Teall was a writer and artist who grew up in Lewis, New York near Lake Champlain. She painted to remember her childhood in the Adirondacks. Her artwork depicts daily farm life in the 1880s and 1890s. She wrote the book Adirondack Tales: A Girl Grows Up in the Adirondacks in the 1880s published by Adirondack Life. It’s filled with stories of everyday life from a woman’s perspective.

This episode focuses on Tealls’ life and artwork, with special attention to her story of making maple sugar. Tapping trees and making syrup and sugar is an Adirondack tradition that is still popular today. In the 1880s it was an important job that came every year in late winter.

Maple sugaring, c. 1880 (P000411)


Header Image: Edna West Teall. Making Maple Syrup, c. 1960. (2018.013.0004)

Man standing in sugarbush. A sugarbush is a grove of maple trees which are tapped for their sap. c.1900 (P059252)

 Collecting sap, c. 1965 (P008022)

Connecting To Curriculum

Read-aloud. Students can follow along while listening. Download a copy of the transcripts here.

Vocabulary. Explore new words. Students will be listening to high level vocabulary in context. Have them identify the definition. Click here for the vocabulary page.

Art. ADKX has focused on Edna West Teall and her artwork in our online activities here.

Science. How maple syrup is made is a fascinating process. Get your class engaged in tapping trees and boiling down the sap.

Planning a Maple Sugaring unit:

How Maple Syrup is Made:

Tap My Trees. Maple-sugaring supplies plus rich information: https://tapmytrees.com/


Higher grade level students may want to explore some topics in more depth.

  1. Explore the meaning behind the saying “He is a man of his times.” What does that mean? Does it apply to Edna West Teall? Does it apply to you?
  2. Interview an older member of the community and find out more about everyday life when this person was a child.