Episode 6: Peddlers – The Traveling Store

A peddler is a traveling seller of goods. A person that sells things door to door. The peddler was a familiar sight on American roadways in the 19th century. We still buy things from home, but now it’s easier to use the internet. We don’t have someone come right to our house and show us the goods they have to sell. We look at their goods on our computer screen.

They were called peddlers because they walked. Peddlers carried the goods they had for sale in a pack on their back and another on the front and they walked from home to home. This episode is going to introduce you to the Adirondack Pack Peddler.  The traveling dollar store of the past, bringing bargains to your door.

Tin-peddler’s wagon 1875-1885. Used by Fred Morey, Spy Lake House, Spy Lake, NY. (Adirondack Experience collection)

 The Peddler Was Always Welcome by Edna West Teall 1960. (Adirondack Experience collection)

Header Image: A peddler and his wagon near Beaver River ca1910. (Adirondack Experience collection P034938)

Connecting To Curriculum

Read-aloud – Students can follow along while listening. Download a copy of the transcript 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.

Geography – Pack Peddlers had a route they took to travel from house to house to sell their wares. In this episode we list three different routes. Students can map these routes on a digital map, Google Earth, or a paper map. Download the routes here.


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

  1. The Industrial Revolution changed the economy from one that relied on farming and artisan-made goods to one that relies on factories and mass production. Discuss how Industrialization benefited the peddler.
  2. More people immigrated to the United States in the 19th century than at any other time. Consider the immigrant to the United States that could not speak English fluently. How would that affect their job choices? Would their choice for where to live be affected?