edtechteacher, best history websites, south, slavery

South and Slavery Web Sites

Documenting the American South ★★★★☆
Documenting the American South (DAS) is an impressive collection of sources by the University of North Carolina on Southern history, literature and culture from the colonial period through the first decades of the 20th century. DAS supplies teachers, students, and researchers with a wide range of titles they can use for reference, studying, teaching, and research. Currently, DAS includes ten thematic collections of primary sources for the study of southern history, literature, and culture including Oral Histories of the American South, True and Candid Compositions: Antebellum Writings, First-Person Narratives of the American South, and North American Slave Narratives.

The Valley of the Shadows ★★★★☆
The Valley of the Shadow depicts two communities, one Northern and one Southern, through the experience of the American Civil War. The project focuses on Augusta County, Virginia and Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and it presents a hypermedia archive of thousands of sources that creates a social history of the coming, fighting, and aftermath of the Civil War. Those sources include newspapers, letters, diaries, photographs, maps, church records, population census, agricultural census, and military records. Students can explore the conflict and write their own histories or reconstruct the life stories of women, African Americans, farmers, politicians, soldiers, and families. The project is intended for secondary schools, community colleges, libraries, and universities.

Africans in America: Judgment Day, 1831-1865 (PBS) ★★★★☆
Part of PBS’s African-American Journey site, here you’ll find part one of a rich collection of resources — images, documents, stories, biographies, and commentaries — on the experience of slavery in America. There is also a useful teacher’s guide and activities for students. There are three other parts to explore: The Terrible Transformation: 1450-1750, Revolution: 1750-1805, and Brotherly Love: 1791-1831

The African-American Mosaic Exhibition (Library of Congress) ★★★★☆
A LOC resource guide for the study of Black History and Culture, the Mosaic explores colonization, abolition, migration, and the WPA. Included are maps, charts, primary sources, and background information.

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress ★★★★☆
The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress, available on the American Memory Web site, contain approximately 7,400 items (38,000 images) relating to Douglass’ life as an escaped slave, abolitionist, editor, orator, and public servant. The papers consist of correspondence, speeches and articles by Douglass and his contemporaries, a draft of his autobiography, financial and legal papers, scrapbooks, and miscellaneous items. Topics include politics, emancipation, racial prejudice, women’s suffrage, and prison reform. Included are correspondences with Susan B. Anthony, William Lloyd Garrison, Horace Greeley, Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, and others.

American Slave Narratives ★★★★☆
Over two thousand former slaves, most born in the last years of the slave regime or during the Civil War, provide first-hand accounts of their experiences on plantations, in cities, and on small farms. At this web site you can read a sample of these narratives and see some photographs taken at the time of the interviews. There is an annotated list of narratives, sound files, and related resources. Part of the American Hypertext Workshop at the University of Virginia.

John Brown’s Holy War ★★★★☆
Special features of this PBS companion site include a QuickTime VR tour of the farmhouse where John Brown’s army gathered before the raid on Harpers Ferry. There are also extended interviews with program participants and excerpts from letters and speeches, as well as an editorial list of books, articles, and Web sites relating to the program topic.

The Journey: Underground Railroad Simulation ★★★★☆
Students are placed in the role of an enslaved person seeking freedom in the North in this interactive historical fiction presentation. Along the way, students are asked to make choices that will determine their survival. Can you make it to freedom?

Exploring Amistad ★★★★☆
This site explores the famous slave ship revolt and offers a detailed narrative, timelines, teaching guides, a resource collection, and more.

African-American Mosaic: Abolition ★★★★☆
Part of a Library of Congress exhibit, this section includes antislavery petitions and other original sources documenting the struggle to abolish slavery.

Frederick Law Olmsted: A Journey in the Seaboard States ★★★★☆
Beginning in 1856, Olmstead traveled for fourteen months in the south as a journalist examining plantation life. Many modern historians consider his work one of the best contemporary descriptions of plantation slavery.

Slave Voices (Duke University Collections) ★★★☆☆
This is a useful source for documents on slave life from the late 18th century through the 19th century.

Lesson Plans, Teacher Guides, Activities and more

Africans in America: Teachers Guide
A four part PBS lesson plan that covers slavery throughout American history. Lessons make good use of primary sources.

John Brown’s Holy War: A Teachers Guide
Presented by PBS, this lesson plan puts emphasis on class discussion and debate. There are several debate questions, as well as an activities section of the guide. Activities include research projects and putting John Brown on trial.

Courage to Freedom: Frederick Douglass’s 1845 Autobiography
In these three-part EdSiteMent lesson plan series, students take a critical look at the state of the South and slavery before the Civil War through the writings of Frederick Douglass. In 1845, Douglass published what was to be the first of his three autobiographies: the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself. As the title suggests, Douglass wished not only to highlight the irony that a land founded on freedom would permit slavery to exist within its midst, but also to establish that he, an American slave with no formal education, was the sole author of the work. 

Lesson Plan: Attitudes Toward Emancipation
This EdSiteMent lesson plan examines the Emancipation Proclamation and the factors that inspired its creation. Special attention is also paid to newspaper opinion articles of the time. Please note: The material in this lesson plan may contain offensive language and racial stereotypes. Marco Polo asks teachers to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of presenting this to students. Grades 9-12.

Attitudes about Slavery in Franklin County, Pennsylvania (Class Activity)
Students will read transcriptions of articles from two Franklin County, Pennsylvania newspapers in order to compare the county’s Republican and Democratic Parties’ positions on slavery. Lesson Plan provided by The Valley of the Shadow.

Teaching With Documents Lesson Plan: The Amistad Case
Part of the NARA site, this lesson plan focuses on the Amistad. The lesson plan contains 5 online documents and a Teacher guideline.

OUSD Lesson Plan: Frederick Douglass
This Oakland Unified School District lesson plan is designed for 9th grade students. You’ll be impressed with the array of teaching ideas, lesson templates, handouts, worksheets, and tech integration. The goal of the lesson is to encourage students to read purposefully, learn reading strategies, and develop Expository writing strategies for improving critical thinking skills. The themes of Social Justice, Social Reconciliation, and Social Transformation play a central role in the lessons.

Interpreting Primary Sources: Slavery
Digital History provides brief excerpts from primary sources and statistics on slavery, as well as questions to think about.

Slavery Divides The Nation: Self-Test

Multiple-choice self-test from Prentice Hall. Questions are chosen randomly from a list.

Digital History Resource Guides
The Digital Resource Guides provide links to American history web sites by period and provide historical overviews, readings (online textbook chapter, Reader’s Companion), primary source documents (documents, maps, cartoons), teaching resources (chronologies, maps, quizzes), audio-visual resources, and additional resources. The Guides are an excellent and comprehensive teaching resource.

HistoryTeacher.net: AP United States History Quizzes
A New York teacher has produced a great general site for history teachers that offers AP-level United States history quizzes on many different periods and topics.

AP United States History DBQs: 1810-1860
These student-created DBQs are part of the excellent Historyteacher.net site

Burning Hatred: Discussing the Constitutional Conflict Over Cross Burning
In this lesson, students examine the constitutionality of various forms of expression; they then take part in a mock trial on the issue of cross burning. (December 13, 2002)

The South: Blank Map
The companion web site to The American People offers blank maps related to various topics in American history. The maps can be printed or placed in a PowerPoint presentation. Go to Blank Maps for Quizzes.

Images of African Americans from the 19th Century (New York Public Library)
A collection of images from the New York Public Library produced by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.