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50 Years and Beyond: Philadelphia after the Emancipation Proclamation

This unit presents a picture of Philadelphia in 1913, fifty years after President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the enslaved people who were, in 1863, living in states and counties of states in rebellion.  As there were approximately 4 million enslaved people living in the south at that time, thousands of people moved north over the next 50 years.  Philadelphia was affected more than most cities as its location just north of Maryland, Delaware, and Virginia lent itself to those who wanted to move from the memories of slavery towards dreams of a better life.           

In 1897, W.E.B. DuBois was hired by the University of Pennsylvania to study the residents of the Seventh Ward of Philadelphia to understand their economic, political and social condition or as he put it, “the negro problem.”  “The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study” is now considered a classic work in the field of social science.  A few years later in 1913, J. Gordon Baugh, Jr. printed “A Souvenir of Germantown Issued during the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at Philadelphia, PA, September 1913” which was a pamphlet designed to celebrate the successes of African Americans 50 years after the Emancipation Proclamation.  Why do we have two entirely different pictures of Philadelphia in the late 19thand early 20thcentury?  This unit will look at population sources and conditions in the 7thand the 22ndwards of Philadelphia.  Students will compare and contrast the political, social and economic conditions of these two wards to see why residents had such different experiences.  Students will also explore continuity and change in these wards from 1913 through to today.  Although this unit is intended for 5thgraders, it can be modified for 4thgraders.

Terry Anne Wildman

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