The Opium Trade in Context: Local, Global and Modern Connections

In partnership with the Forbes House Museum, Milton, MA

One-Day Programs


Wednesday June 29, 2022 9:00 am – 3:00 pm


Forbes House Museum, Milton, MA

Focal Skills and Dispositions

Evaluating visual evidence; Inquiry; Assessing claims and evidence


5 PDPs


Partnership educators: no cost
Non-partnership educators: $200

Especially for educators of grades 9-12

This workshop will be a collaboration between Primary Source and the Forbes House Museum. In conjunction with the museum’s new exhibit, It’s Just Business: The Lasting Impact of the China Trade, we will explore the moral complexities and enduring legacy of the opium trade in a local, national and global context. We will investigate how the trade of opium was fueled by both governmental and personal ambition, creating personal fortunes that funded opulent lifestyles and philanthropic endeavors, and playing a key role in framing the Chinese view of themselves in the modern world. Using classroom-friendly resources, we will map the opium trade networks, exploring their relationship to New England families; probe the role that the U.S. government played in facilitating the trade and the Chinese efforts to stop it; consider who benefitted from the trade of opium; grapple with the moral implications of engaging in the illegal sale of an addictive narcotic; and investigate the influence of the opium trade on Chinese identity and China’s self-named “Century of Humiliation.” Not least, we will discuss opportunities to make connections between the opium epidemic of the 19th century and the current one in our own society.

Registration Information

Partnership Educators:

Registration must be approved through your school district. Contact your school district’s Primary Source representative with your request.

Non-partnership Educators:

Register using the form below.


Contact Sara Clamage at

Registration is ongoing until the course is filled.