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Standard:
United States History, Era 2: Standard 3C
The student understands African life under slavery

Lesson Summary:
In this lesson, students learn about the experiences of African-Americans under the institution of slavery using primary and secondary sources. Students search, examine, and analyze primary and secondary sources from a variety of digitized materials on the Internet. Students apply this knowledge by creating a digital scrapbook depicting a Day in the Life of an African-American during this time period.

Commentary:
Students will be learning how to apply the inferences made while deconstructing primary and secondary sources to a specific event, African-American Experiences under the institution of slavery.

This lesson will exemplify how reading a text changes with technology. No longer will the reader be looking at printed text on a page, but multimedia and text elements on a screen. Take for example, primary and secondary sources. A primary source can be current or historical. It might include newspaper stories, motion pictures, sound recordings, documents, photographs, posters, diaries, sheet music, articles of clothing, and other artifacts that happened at the time of an event or through an eyewitness account. The Internet provides portals to many digitized materials.

A secondary source is created by someone removed by time from the event. Examples of secondary sources include textbooks, journal/magazine articles, histories, and encyclopedias.

Many of the artifacts on the Internet are in raw format without any supporting information. Since primary sources are fragmentary, students may not relate to these bits and pieces. This is when interrogation techniques can be employed where students ask questions on their own terms and begin to make sense of the artifacts. Reading these artifacts becomes an essential part of the learning process.

In utilizing technology, there are many modalities for reading a variety of texts, including various documents, still and moving images, and sound. The African-American Experiences lesson will incorporate various types of media formats to address various learning styles.

Estimated Duration:
5-7 Class Periods

Pre-Assessment:
• Identify firsthand (primary) and secondhand information (secondary) by labeling a set of materials (small groups: word processing or paper-pencil).
• Explain why it is a firsthand (primary) or secondhand (secondary) source (individual: word processing or paper-pencil).
Primary Source Tool Kit

Scoring Guidelines:
Students are being assessed on their knowledge to identify firsthand and secondhand sources as evidenced by their ability to categorize/label and explain their selections.
(Pre-Assessment Rubric)

African American experiences during slavery are identified in the National History Standards under United States History, Era 2: Standard 3C that states, “The student understands African life under slavery.” After a quick search of state standards, this subject generally falls within grades 5-8. Naturally the best way to learn about daily life, culture, and history is to draw upon first-hand accounts by people who lived during that time period. Primary sources are tailor made for studying this topic. Let’s embark on a journey back in time with the aid of eye witness accounts, diaries, newspaper articles, broadsides, engravings, and songs to understand the cultural landscape of the period. It should be noted that much of the material expresses the language, experiences, and viewpoints of the era in which they were written.

Lesson and Post Assessment

• Analyze primary source and secondary source materials and how they can be used to investigate African-American experiences. (whole class: discussion).
• Create a digital scrapbook showing the Day in the Life of an African-American during the time of slavery using primary and secondary sources (individual: word processing, multimedia slide show, or publication).
• Label each item as a primary or secondary source (individual: word processing).
• Provide a brief description of each item in the scrapbook (individual: word processing).
• Provide the reference/source for each item in the scrapbook (individual: word processing).
Material Cultural Analysis Guide
• African-American Experiences Primary Sources Website List

African American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920

Selections from this collection illuminate the history of African Americans in Ohio from 1850 to 1920. Through newspaper articles, photographs, and manuscripts the story of slavery and freedom is told in some very compelling ways. Read about McCullum vs. the Xenia Board of Education (1887) in the Cleveland Gazette and you will find many similarities to the Historic 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education case. Photographs of important African Americans like Benjamin Tucker Tanner, dean of Payne Theological Seminary at Wilberforce University in 1901; Granville T. Woods, inventor; and Benjamin W. Arnett, who wrote legislation for the repeal of Ohio’s Black Laws are invaluable artifacts in putting faces with events. Rounding out the collection is a variety of manuscripts that represent documents of the period. Included are a daily account book of Eustatia plantation in Mississippi, kept by G.R. Clark, overseer; the manumission papers of Sam Barnett; and the papers of Army Colonel Charles Young who served as military attaché to Haiti and Liberia.

African American Sheet Music, 1850-1920

Over a thousand pieces of sheet music are contained in this collection from the archives of Brown University. Included are a wide range of topics such as minstrel songs, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, African American soldiers in the Civil War, emancipated slaves, Reconstruction, and northern migration of African Americans. Changing racial attitudes in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are revealed within the lyrics and cover illustrations. Works from popular composers such as James Bland, Ernest Hogan, and George C. Howard provide insight into the daily life and pastimes of the period. Many of African American artists would be lost to history if it were not for the sheet music they penned or performed. Singers such as Cordelia Howard and Aida Overton Walker are among the performers whose images are preserved. In addition, there is a special presentation on the development of African American musical theatre from 1865 -1910 that highlights the contributions of Sam Lucas, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and James Weldon Johnson.

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record

Exceptional black and white engravings and water color paintings gathered from a variety of sources depict daily life of Africans and African Americans from pre-colonial Africa to the time of slavery. Each image is accompanied by a detailed description and source for further research. Find European trading posts and trace the slave routes using old maps. Examine slave ships and the terrible conditions endured on the passage to the New World. Explore dances and festive events that created community in African American society. Catch a glimpse of life on the plantations. Teachers and students are encouraged to use these images for studying the experiences of Africans who were captured, enslaved, and transported to America.

Been Here So Long: Selections from the WPA American Slave Narratives

This site is a great starting point for teachers to use with students. Seventeen American Slave Narratives have been selected from approximately 2,300 that were compiled by the Federal Writers Project. The Table of contents consists of the name of the narrator, his/her state, and a sample quotation. This format gives students a brief overview of the representative narratives. There is also a topical index for finding information quickly on daily life, conditions, education, family, and work. Three lesson plans will facilitate the examination of the documents and engage students in thinking about the experiences of African Americans under the institution of slavery.

Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers Project, 1936-1938

Before delving into this vast assortment of documents, read the special presentation, An Introduction to the WPA Slave Narratives, for insight into the interviews, the possible pitfalls, and the need to fully study the texts. These first-person accounts were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The collection is comprised of more than 2,300 accounts and 500 black and white photographs from the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress. Search by keyword or browse by narrator, subject or state.

Documenting the American South

Documenting the American South provides access to digitized primary sources that offer Southern perspectives on American History. Of particular note is the North American Slave Narratives primarily from the libraries of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Among the collections are First Person Narratives of the American South, Library of Southern Literature, North American Slave Narratives, and the Southern Homefront, 1861-1865. Read letters, memoirs, personal diaries, and autobiographies from slaves, laborers, women, aristocrats, soldiers, and officers. Classroom resources include a Teacher’s Toolkit, lesson plans and activities, and ideas for interpreting Diaries of the American South. Students are encouraged to use the first person narratives to demonstrate differences in perspectives related to historical accounts. Students and teachers are invited to contribute what they discover, learn and teach from this American South experience.

From Slavery to Freedom: The African American Pamphlet Collection, 1822-1909

From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1822-1909 contains 396 pamphlets written by such prominent individuals as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Mary Church Terrell, and Charles Sumner. Publication dates range from 1822 to 1909 and cover a wide range of topics from slavery and African colonization to Emancipation and Reconstruction. Personal accounts, public orations, organizational reports, and legislative speeches provide historical evidence and perspective about the time in which they were written..

Voices from the Days of Slavery

Listen to former slaves describe their lives in Voices from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories. Between 1932 and 1975, the American Folklife Center at the Library Congress conducted interviews with twenty-three individuals who were born between 1823 and 1860. Seven hours of recordings depict the life of slaves and freedmen. The interviews allow the listener to hear them singing songs and speaking in the dialect that reflects their heritage. Transcriptions of the recordings and biographies of the interviewers are included to enhance the listening experience.

Scoring Guidelines:
Students are being assessed on their ability to apply their knowledge of primary and secondary sources while investigating African-American experiences during the institution of slavery. (Post-Assessment Rubric)

Instructional Procedures:
Day One
1. Administer the pre-assessment.
a. Differentiate between primary and secondary source materials by identifying and labeling a set of materials created by the teacher (small groups: word processing or paper-pencil).
b. Explain why it is a primary or secondary source (individual: word processing or paper-pencil).
c. Use the Primary Source Tool Kit as a guide for putting together selections for your students.
d. Use the scoring rubric to determine what concepts have not been mastered.

Day Two
1. Review any concepts that have not been mastered using illustrations of primary and secondary sources from the Web (whole class: discussion).
a. Use a data projector to illustrate pre-selected primary and secondary sources to students.
2. Analyze primary source and secondary source materials and how they can be used to investigate African-American experiences. (whole class: discussion).
a. Pre-select a set of primary and secondary source materials.
b. Use the Material Cultural Analysis Guide.
3. Introduce Vocabulary Words.

Day Three – Day Four
1. Have students search the Web for primary and secondary source materials about the daily experiences of African-Americans during the institution of slavery (small groups: pre-selected Websites, Web browser).
a. Provide students with links to Primary and Secondary Source Websites.
2. Bookmark or save primary and secondary sources such as images to a floppy disk, thumb drive, or hard drive. Any files that are saved must conform to copyright laws and fair use guidelines (small groups: Web browser).

Day Five – Day Seven
1. Create a digital scrapbook showing the Day in the Life of an African-American during the time of slavery (individual: word processing, multimedia slide show, or publication).
a. Students select and organize items for their digital scrapbooks (individual: organizing files in a folder).
b. Students label each item as a primary or secondary source (individual: word processing).
c. Students provide a brief description of each item in the scrapbook (individual: word processing).
d. Students provide the reference/source for each item in the scrapbook (individual: word processing).

Originally Published Jan/Feb 2005

Updated March 11, 2015
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