Free History Studies: Eliza Lucas & Indigo

Eliza Lucas brought the indigo plant to South Carolina from Antigua where her father was governor.

Read the current chapter online: “The Story of a Wise Woman”

  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
    • South Carolina (if you didn’t do that in the last lesson)
    • Antigua (the island where Eliza’s father was governor)
  • Learn about the indigo plant.  Why do you think it cannot “stand frost”? (Hint: In what parts of the world is it normally found?)
  • The cutworm found the indigo plant.  Investigate cutworms.
  • You have undoubtedly heard the old adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  Copy the entire original proverb.
  • Find out how indigo is made into blue dye.
  • More about Eliza Lucas and indigo from the Book of Knowledge:

    Eliza’s father, George Lucas, a British army officer, purchased a plantation in South Carolina about the year 1737. To the new home he came with his wife and two daughters. Hardly had the family become accustomed to the strange land when George Lucas was ordered to join his regiment. Later he became governor of Antigua, in the West Indies.

    Since Mrs. Lucas was in delicate health, Eliza, the elder daughter, took complete charge of the home and plantation, though she was only seventeen years old. Later she managed three plantations belonging to her father in South Carolina.

    This ambitious girl decided to experiment with agriculture. Indigo, an Eastern plant which furnishes a blue dye, was being grown in the West Indies. It had been tried in the southern colonies, but without success. Eliza sent to her father in Antigua for some seeds, and she persevered until she learned how to make the plant grow in South Carolina. Now she had a fine money-making crop.

    But she wanted more than her own profit. Eliza saw the possibilities of a great industry. Therefore, in 1744, she devoted her entire crop to making seeds. This she gave to the neighboring farmers. In a few years Eliza Lucas saw her dream come true. Indigo became one of the chief crops of South Carolina and brought much wealth to the colony.

    “Women in the United States,” The Book of Knowledge

Further Investigation

Eliza Lucas Pinckney
Biography and video from South Carolina ETV.

History of indigo in South Carolina.

Blue Wild Indigo
Known as “false indigo,” this indigenous plant also has a variety of uses.

How indigo was processed.


How to Use Indigo Dye
Make your own dye from indigo grains and color something — for the very brave!

South Carolina Map/Quiz Printout

Interactive Map Maker {Free}
Make your own maps.


Eliza Pinckney
Public domain biography established primarily from her own letters.

“The Founding of North and South Carolina”
Chapter from This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Roleplay: Eliza Lucas
Lesson plan at the University of Minnesota where students are to incorporate given sourced facts into a presentation.  Helpful simply for the given facts!

A Lesson to Dye For: Integrated Science-History-Art Unit on Plant Dyes
Lesson plan at the University of Minnesota incorporating five different experiments, all deemed “low-cost.”  Also see Part II which includes the history and processing of indigo.

Dye Sample Journal
Lesson plan for older students at Western Carolina University for dyeing yarn and using the result to make a journal.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

United States Map
At for locating South Carolina.

South Carolina State Map
Map for notebook.

PAT map for notebook.

Eliza Lucas & Indigo Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the complete series:
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans
Free History Studies: Stories of Great Americans

Don’t Miss a Thing!

Subscribe to receive updates and additions.

Learn to Write. Write.:

Write Something Every Day

Tools for the Homeschool Handy-Mom

At DIY Homeschooler we provide encouragement and resources to those homeschool handy-moms paving their own way — solutions to help you “do-it-yourself” when it comes to tutoring your children. Learn more.

The Latest

Affiliate Disclosure

Throughout this site you will find affiliate links to items that we trust and enthusiastically recommend. If you decide to use these links to make a purchase, we do receive a small compensation that helps support this site. Thank you! Read our full affiliate disclosure to learn more.

Keep Reading

Create a website or blog at