United States History, Era 2: Standard 3C
The student understands African life under slavery
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
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
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.
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.
5-7 Class Periods
• 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
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.
American experiences during slavery are identified in the National
History Standards under
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.
and Post Assessment
primary source and secondary source materials and how they can
be used to investigate African-American experiences. (whole class:
• 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:
• Provide the reference/source for each item in the scrapbook (individual:
• Material Cultural Analysis Guide
• African-American Experiences Primary Sources Website List
American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920
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.
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.
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.
in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers Project,
Before delving into this vast assortment of documents,
read the special presentation, An Introduction to the WPA Slave
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
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.
Slavery to Freedom: The African American Pamphlet Collection, 1822-1909
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..
from the Days of Slavery
Listen to former slaves describe their lives in Voices
from the Days of Slavery: Former Slaves Tell Their Stories.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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,
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
c. Students provide a brief description of each item in the scrapbook (individual:
d. Students provide the reference/source for each item in the scrapbook (individual: