Free History Studies: Jacques Marquette

Jacques Marquette (also known as Père Marquette) was one of the first Europeans to travel down the Mississippi.

Read the current chapter online: “Marquette in Iowa”

  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
    • Canada
    • Mississippi River
    • Wisconsin
    • Fox River
    • Wisconsin River
    • Iowa
  • View a birch bark canoe.
  • Investigate buffaloes.  You’ll find resources below.
  • Explore the Illinois Indian tribe.
  • Enjoy a dish of cornmeal mush.
  • Make a list of all of the states that the Mississippi River flows through.
  • More about Jacques Marquette from the Book of Knowledge:

    The journey began one bright spring morning late in May in the year 1673.  The adventurers launched their canoes and paddled gaily over the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan to Green Bay, where they found an encampment of the Wild Oats Indians, who crowded around the white men.  Father Marquette was able to talk to them in their own language, and he told them that his party was bound for the “Great River.”  The Indians listened to his words in polite silence, but when he paused they tried earnestly to persuade the voyagers not to go forward….

    Then the white men bade good-by to the wondering Indians and set out to paddle up the Fox River. The upper course of the stream was so shallow that the adventurers were obliged to carry their canoes and walk along the bed of the river. The way was rough, and often the sharp stones cut through the men’s moccasins, but the party was in high spirits.

    When they came to the head of the Fox River, they made a portage — that is, carried their canoes across the country —  to the Wisconsin River and soon were floating on its pleasant waters. After a week on this river, they reached the Mississippi, on June 17, 1673.

    Day after day they floated down the “Great River.” They encountered strange scenery, strange animals, strange birds and strange tribes of Indians of the interior. Wherever they came upon an Indian encampment, Father Marquette preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    “I know not whether they understood what I told them … but it is a seed cast in the earth, which must bear its fruit in season,” he wrote in his diary.

    “Explorers of the Mississippi,” The Book of Knowledge


Further Investigation

Father Jacques Marquette
Brief biography at

Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet
Summary of their Mississippi journey from PBS.

The Mississippi Voyage of Jolliet and Marquette 1673
Text of Marquette’s journal detailing the event at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Jacques Marquette
Statue contributed by Wisconsin in Statuary Hall at the Capitol.

The Mississippi River
Geography and history facts at


Wisconsin Map/Quiz Printout

Iowa Map/Quiz Printout

Rivers of North America Label Me Printout

Mississippi River States Map/Quiz Printout

Interactive Map Maker {Free}
Make your own maps.

What Can You Make From a Buffalo
Smithsonian interactive that shows how full use was made of the buffalo.

What Story Does It Tell
Another Smithsonian interactive that shows the relationship between the Indians and the buffalo through a buffalo hide painting.

Mississippi River Scavenger Hunt
Students research the answers to questions about the river at

Mississippi Mud Cooking
Recipes just for fun!


“How to Build a Real Birch-Bark Canoe”
A chapter from Boat-Building and Boating by Daniel Beard, author of The American Boy’s Handy Book and The Outdoor Handy Book.

Minn of the Mississippi

Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
Explore the Mighty Mississippi through the eyes of a turtle traveling down the river.   Family favorite!

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Predicting the Past
Lesson plan from the Illinois State Museum exploring artifacts of the expedition.

Begin With a Buffalo
Crayola lesson plan where you make your own “buffalo” hide picture.

Buffalo Hides Lesson Plan
Another option at

Draining the Land
Lesson plan from Iowa Public Television that helps students become familiar with the Mississippi River.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Map of New France
Wonderful notebook addition that shows the rivers and various Indian tribes.

Marquette and Jolliet’s Exploration of the Mississippi
A map showing their journey.

United States Map
At for locating Wisconsin, Iowa, and the Mississippi River.

Blank outline map at for labeling.

Wisconsin State Map
Map for notebook, helpful for locating the Wisconsin and Fox Rivers.

Iowa State Map
Map at for notebook.

Explorer Notebooking Pages
4-page explorer set at

Jacques Marquette 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

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