Transition from Slavery – A Study of Reconstruction

Author: Sandy O’Keefe

School/Organization:

Rudolph Blankenburg School

Year: 2012

Seminar: American Racial Politics

Grade Level: 5-8

Keywords: American civil war, Civil War, Reconstruction, Slavery

School Subject(s): Social Studies

After the American Civil War and the end of slavery, many freed blacks had to depend on whites for land. Although their work had produced much of the value of southern lands, opponents of land redistribution kept most from getting title to any of the lands on which they labored, and many faced barriers when they sought to move and to acquire new land. This led to debt and dependence on whites. Many freed blacks had to rent land or work for wages on white-owned plantations; sharecropping was common in the South. Because there were approximated four million Americans enslaved in the United States who were freed at the end of the Civil War, no single story can represent the entire group of freed slaves. As educators, our job is to make sure that we present information on all social classes from multiple points of view for our students. Many stories have been passed on through diaries, letters, records or interviews. The stories, contributions, and experiences of freed slaves are what this unit will highlight. The format of these stories varies: some stories are written as autobiographies, poems, songs, or interviews or even government records.

According to the Library of Congress webpage, only twenty-six audio-recorded interviews of ex-slaves have been found. It is important that students learn from those who were slaves to understand slavery but also to understand life after slavery and how each person had a different experience and different story to tell. Oppressive times continued in America and many continued to struggle against inequality and discrimination (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/voices/vfssp.html). Learning and reading first hand accounts will allow students to gain a better understanding of the experiences of former slaves.

The role of Reconstruction and the role of the government as it relates to those freed men and women will also be discussed. The lesson plans for this unit requires the use of many primary source documents and narratives. Many resources are online and directly available for students to use.

Download Unit: TIP-Sandy-OKeefe-Unit.pdf

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Full Unit Text
Content Objectives

Overview

 

After the American Civil War and the end of slavery, many freed blacks found themselves in a situation where they had to depend on whites for land.  Although their work had produced much of the value of southern lands, opponents of land redistribution kept most from getting title to any of the lands on which they labored, and many faced barriers when they sought to move and to acquire new land.  This led to debt and dependence on whites.  Many freed blacks had to rent land or work for wages on white-owned plantations; sharecropping was common in the South.  Because there were approximated four million Americans enslaved in the United States who were freed at the end of the Civil War, no single story can represent the entire group of freed slaves.  As educators, our job is to make sure that we present information on all social classes from multiple points of view for our students.  Many stories have been passed on through diaries, letters, records or interviews.  The stories, contributions, and experiences of freed slaves are what this unit will highlight.  The format of these stories varies: some stories are written as autobiographies, poems, songs, or interviews or even government records.

 

According to the Library of Congress webpage, only twenty-six audio-recorded interviews of ex-slaves have been found.  It is important that students learn from those who were slaves to understand slavery but also to understand life after slavery and how each person had a different experience and different story to tell.  Oppressive times continued in America and many continued to struggle against inequality and discrimination (http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/voices/vfssp.html).  Learning and reading first hand accounts will allow students to gain a better understanding of the experiences of former slaves.

 

The role of Reconstruction and the role of the government as it relates to those freed men and women will also be discussed.  The lesson plans for this unit requires the use of many primary source documents and narratives.  Many resources are online and directly available for students to use.

 

 

 

Rationale

 

Eighth grade students in the Philadelphia School District study U.S. History. This unit will allow for a deep exploration of the transition from slavery during the Reconstruction period.  Because what happened in the various regions of the country, the experiences of many freed blacks look widely different.  The collection of stories shared in this unit will help students to understand the experiences of how former slaves transitioned out of slavery.

 

Historical Context  

 

Reconstruction of the south began before the war ended.  The thirteenth amendment abolished slavery and freed four million slaves, but did not help freed slaves transition into citizens.  Though the fourteenth amendment did assure citizenship and the fifteenth promised voting rights for African Americans, many freed men experienced restrictions and second-class citizenship.  Laws known as “Black Codes” were passed to restrict the lives of blacks.  Blacks were not able to travel where they wanted, or choose certain professions.  Some of the black codes stated that blacks could not own guns or assemble in certain places.  Blacks were prevented from voting, holding office or serving on juries.  Also, in many states free blacks were prevented from immigrating into certain states prior to the passage of the 1866 Civil Rights Act and the 14th amendment (http://home.gwu.edu/~jjhawkin/BlackCodes/BlackCodes.htm).

 

These black codes enraged those in the north because those in the south wanted to take rights away from blacks even before they had them.  The thirteenth amendment was passed in Congress on January 31, 1865 and ratified on December 6, 1865. Congress initially attempted to block the passage of the black codes by passing the Civil Rights Act of 1866, but President Johnson vetoed this.  Congress did override Johnson’s veto, so the Civil Rights Act of 1866 became law. Congress worried the courts might strike it down, though, and so they passed the 14th amendment partly to give it a stronger constitutional basis.  The 14th amendment was passed on June 13, 1866, but was not ratified until July 9, 1868 (Bassett, 1928, p. 51).   This was passed in part to make these black codes unconstitutional.   In the end, the Black Codes were eliminated with the passage of the 14th amendment, but they served as precursors to the Jim Crow laws (http://home.gwu.edu/~jjhawkin/BlackCodes/BlackCodes.htm). After its passage, the southern states rarely used laws that explicitly disadvantaged blacks like the “Black Codes.”  They used officially “race-neutral” or “color-blind” laws that were designed and administered to disadvantage blacks.

 

There were organizations that tried to help freedmen transition out of slavery.  Changes in policies were needed but many of those in power were not in favor of equality for blacks. “Forty acres and a mule” is one example of an empty promise.  If the freed slaves had land they could take care of themselves (Alexander, 2004, p. 27).   Some abandoned plantations were given to freed blacks and many blacks began to plant crops and start schools.  But with the assassination of Lincoln, the policy of “forty acres and a mule” died as well.  Andrew Johnson ordered all lands to be returned to the former owners.  When this resulted, “African Americans fell into the share-cropping system, and out of that system grew debt peonage” (Few, 2000, p. C11).  The system kept white planters and merchants, who were also legislators, in control.  By 1868, sharecropping was the pre-dominant capital-labor arrangement throughout the South (Riddle, 1995, p. 53).  Racism also kept many blacks from receiving an equal education, purchasing land, and equal protection under the law (p. 53).

 

Radical Republicans in Congress tried to fight for rights for freed blacks, but they were unable to win land for former slaves.   Radical Reconstruction did fight for voting rights for blacks.  The government sent troops to protect them while 500,000 blacks voted in the 1868 presidential election, which led to Ulysses S. Grant’s victory (Alexander, p. 28).

This election was critical.  As historian Eric Foner states, Johnson wanted to “bring the white South and the white North back together” (p. 27).  Johnson never wanted African Americans to be a part of postwar South.  Johnson did not see African Americans as anything other than rightless, landless plantation laborers (p. 27).  Despite this, over 1,500 blacks were elected and held political office during this time period (p. 28).

 

One organization called the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, also known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, fought to help blacks earn an education, lands, and jobs.  Clearly there were differences between whites and blacks regarding job availability, educational opportunity and wages.  On March 3, 1865, Congress established the Freedmen’s Bureau.  For example, the Alabama Freedmen’s Bureau required black men to be paid between ten and twelve dollars per month, and black women between six and ten dollars, but many blacks were paid as little as two dollars, and some blacks nothing at all (English, 2009, p. 3).   It was difficult for many who did not have an education to understand contracts and for many even to find a contract.  White employers were greedy, better educated and discontent – they were not there to help the blacks.  Thus, the Freedmen’s Bureau supported freed blacks with these problems.

 

The Freedmen’s Bureau was eventually disbanded in 1872, but the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau show that they assisted many newly freed slaves and poor whites after the Civil War, at least until Johnson replaced the Bureau’s more radical leaders with more conservative ones.   In 1868, it was reported in Congress that the Bureau only employed 553 agents and 348 clerks (Huston, 2005, p. 208).  According to James Huston, hypothetically, if the Bureau were established for thirty years until 1895 and more clerks and agents were employed with an agenda supported by Congress and the President, then perhaps the outcome for African Americans would have been different (p. 407).  A major dilemma after the Civil War, which was not addressed, was the racism in the South.  Because this problem was not solved, African Americans had to suffer severely.

 

The Freedmen and Southern Society Project established in 1976 sought to document the lives of liberated slaves, defeated slaveholders, soldiers and civilians, from the commoners to the elite and both Northerners and Southerners.  One of the lessons will review these documents in detail so that students can access and read more about first hand accounts of the transition from slavery to freedom.  (http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/index.html)

 

African Americans during the time period directly after the Civil War were impacted in many different ways.   Many of the stories and personal accounts of freed slaves have been passed on through interviews.  The “Voices From the Days of Slavery,” which can be found on the Library of Congress website, has almost seven hours of recorded interviews that took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states.  In these interviews, former slaves spoke about their lives during slavery and after and their lives as a whole, since the recordings took place almost sixty or more years after the former slaves were freed.

 

In the interview with Fountain Hughes on June 11, 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland, this man, one hundred and one years old, discusses his life as a slave and what happened after he was free.  He said while a slave, “You’re not a thing but a dog.” Masters would sell the slaves like they sold horses, cows, and hogs.  Hughes spoke in his interview about how he slept on the floor, and how if he wanted to go anywhere he had to have a note or a pass from his master.  He said he wouldn’t ever want to go back to that life, but that after he was free he had nowhere to go and had no education.  When he was a child during the Civil War he was not sold, but after he was free he spoke in his interview about being “bound out for a dollar a month.”   The money he made was given to his mother because children were not able to spend any money since they might have stolen the money.   Hughes said that he might have been bound out for a dollar a month for a couple of years and when he became a man it turned into ten dollars a month, or one hundred and twenty dollars a year.  Hughes’ whole family were all slaves and had been slaves all their lives but once they were free they had nowhere to go, they had no property and nothing to own.

 

In another interview from the same series, Uncle Bob Ledbetter in Oil City, Louisiana in 1940 explains how he learned to read and write.  He said he was never at school a day in his life.  His father who was a slave taught him how to read and write at night.  He was 72 or 73 at the time of this interview.

 

Interviewee Isom Moseley explains that it was a year before the slaves knew that they were free.  They worked on shares and didn’t rent any land.  He was a boy at this time.  At the time of the interview he was eighty-five.  The interviewer asked him what the government was doing for him now and he said that the government gave him five dollars a month, some clothes and something to eat.  With the five dollars he buys flour. Moseley shared that he has been receiving this for about eight or nine years.

 

Uncle Billy McCrea, in Jasper, Texas in 1940 was interviewed at the age of eighty-nine.  He worked as a cook on steamboats from Jasper to Beaumont, which was about fifty miles.  In his interview you can hear several songs as well.

 

Charlie Smith, a former slave, was born in Africa.  In his interview he discussed what it was like to ride the boat from Africa to the United States.   Charlie Smith got his name from the man who bought him and raised him in Galveston, Texas.  He was raised up as a cowboy and he was the only colored cowboy in his area.  He was treated in the same manner as his owner’s children but after the Civil War ended, the freed men stayed to work because they had no rights, couldn’t make any rules and had to get anything they did approved by the whites.  His owner never sold him and Charlie didn’t go to school much.  Charlie Smith discussed his job in which he worked for the United States.  Charlie caught criminals for rewards.  According to his interview, Charlie Smith received Social Security at age 113 and during this interview, completed in 1975, Smith said that he was 144 years old.  His age is listed as uncertain according to the Library of Congress.  His memory might well not have been reliable, since if he had been born in 1831, he would have been illegally imported into America from Africa.

 

Here is a chart with links and photos of the interviewees discussed in this unit:

 

Interview with Fountain Hughes, Baltimore, Maryland, June 11, 1949

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/afcesn:@field(DOCID+afc9999001t9990a)

 

Fountain Hughes, circa 1952. Photograph courtesy of The Jeffersonian newspaper, Towson, Maryland.

 

Interview with Uncle Bob Ledbetter, Oil City, Louisiana, 1940

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/afcesn:@field(DOCID+afc9999001t3992a)

 

Uncle Bob Ledbetter, October, 1940. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division – Lomax Collection. Photograph. Call Number: LOT 7414-B, no. N71.

 

Interview with Isom Mosely, Gee’s Bend, Alabama, 1941

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/afcesn:@field(DOCID+afc9999001t9990a)

Isom Moseley, October, 1939. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division – Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection. Photograph by Marion Post Walcott. Call Number: LC-USF33- 030363-M5.
Interview with Uncle Billy McCrea, Jasper, Texas, 1940

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/afcesn:@field(DOCID+afc9999001t3974a)

Billy McCrea, October, 1940. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division – Lomax Collection. Photograph by Ruby T. Lomax. Call Number: LOT 7414-F, no. N39.
Interview with Charlie Smith, Bartow, Florida, March 17, 1975

http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/afcesn:@field(DOCID+afc9999001t17510)

Charlie Smith, 1976. Photograph by Peggy Kehoe, courtesy of The Polk County Democrat, Bartow, Florida.

 

 

 

 

 

Objectives 

 

This unit is intended for students in the 8th grade. As a middle school English and Social Studies teacher I plan on using this curriculum unit to help students better understand an era of U.S. History.  This unit will help frame out this critical time period and give students a better understanding of the Reconstruction time period in American History.

 

The objectives of the unit will include the following (adapted from the School District of Philadelphia’s 8th grade curriculum plan):

  • The student will demonstrate an understanding of Reconstruction and its impact on racial relations in the United States.
  • Summarize the aims of Reconstruction and analyze the effects of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on the course of Reconstruction.
  • Summarize the provisions of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution, including how the amendments protected the rights of African Americans and sought to enhance their political, social, and economic opportunities.
  • Explain the effects of Reconstruction on African Americans, including their new rights and restrictions, their motivations to relocate to the North and the West, and the actions of the Freedmen’s Bureau.
  • Compare the economic and social effects of Reconstruction on different populations, including the move from farms to factories and the change from the plantation system to sharecropping.
  • Explain the purposes of Reconstruction with attention to the economic, social, political, and geographic problems facing the South, including reconstruction of towns, factories, farms, and transportation systems; the effects of emancipation; racial tension; tension between social classes; and disagreement over voting rights.
  • To better understand and to learn more about the lives and the contributions of freed slaves
  • To explore and compare and contrast literature associated with freed slaves and to interpret these pieces of literature using critical thinking skills

Teaching Strategies

Strategies

 

In order to accomplish this unit in the classroom, the teacher must use various strategies. The majority of lessons are designed for cooperative groups within a classroom. The lessons require that students use listening skills, graphic organizers, group discussion skills, critical thinking skills, and creative and analytical writing skills.

 

Each lesson is designed for an 8th grade classroom and a forty-five minute class period.  The unit plan can be adapted accordingly and used for grades 5th through 12th.

Classroom Activities

Lesson 1:

(2 days – depending on time period available this lesson can be adapted to a 45 to a 90-minute block)

 

Objectives:

  • The student will demonstrate an understanding of Reconstruction and its impact on racial relations in the United States.
  • Summarize the aims of Reconstruction and discuss the effects of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on the course of Reconstruction.
  • Summarize the provisions of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution, including how the amendments protected the rights of African Americans and sought to enhance their political, social, and economic opportunities.

 

Materials:

Black Codes from each state:

http://home.gwu.edu/~jjhawkin/BlackCodes/BlackCodes.htm

 

Useful links with information on Reconstruction:

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/reconstruction/resources.html

http://www.besthistorysites.net/index.php/american-history/1800/reconstruction

 

Copies of the U.S. Constitution

  • Amendment 13 (http://ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=40)

(http://ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=43)

(http://ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=44)

Rubric for Writing Assignment

 

Introduction:

Essential Questions
1. How did the Southern states respond to the societal alterations brought about by emancipation and the 13th Amendment? (day 1)
2. Why did the Southern states feel that the Black Codes were necessary? (day 1)
3. How did the 14th Amendment address the Black Codes? (day 2)
4. Why was the 15th Amendment necessary? (day 2)

 

 

Activities:

The goal is for students to be able to answer the essential questions by reviewing the useful links websites and completing the group activities.

– Students will begin by reading the 13th amendment

– Ask – now that slaves are free what are they going to do?

– Explain that because of racism, discrimination the southern states based black codes.

– Provide copies of the black codes for students to work in groups and discuss the ways that freed blacks were discriminated against.

 

Use this link:

 

Black codes from each state:

http://home.gwu.edu/~jjhawkin/BlackCodes/BlackCodes.htm

 

– Students should be assigned to groups and each group can work on one state (pictured below) The size of your groups can vary based on the number of states you want to cover and class size.

 

 

– Teacher should circulate the room to make sure that students are able to comprehend the black codes.

– Groups should report on how blacks in their state were discriminated against.

 

Conclusion:

Conclude the lesson by having students explain/discuss how different areas/people in the country would feel about the black codes.

 

Here are the groups:

  1. Northern abolitionists
  2. Northern army veterans
  3. Widows of northern army soldiers
  4. Republican members of congress
  5. African American veterans of northern army living in the south

 

Students should be able to explain that each of these groups would have opposed the black codes and why.

 

Day 2:

– Begin by reviewing the black codes and the reasons why the southern states passed the codes as well as why the northern states opposed the black codes

 

– Then begin with reading the 14th amendment

 

– Students should work in groups to identify five key points of the 14th amendment.

Here they are:

  • Section 1 = all citizens, even minorities, have equal civil rights that must be respected by the state governments;
  • Section 2 = states that don’t let minorities vote will have their representation in Congress reduced proportionate to the number of men who were denied the right to vote;
  • Section 3 = ex-Confederates could not vote nor hold office unless pardoned by Congress (not by the President);
  • Section 4 = Confederate money was worthless and any money lent to support the Confederacy would not be paid back.
  • Section 5 = Congress will have the power to enforce by appropriate legislation the provisions of this article

 

Students should work in groups to answer these questions:

  • How would racist northern whites feel about Section 1?
  • How might section 2 affect southern states differently from northern states?
  • How might northern white opposition to Sections 1 & 2 seem hypocritical?
  • How would southern whites feel about Section 3?
  • How does section 5 impact Congressional power?

 

Follow the same procedure with the 15th amendment- Students should learn that it denied states the option of denying the right to vote to minorities (review who still could not vote – women!)

 

Conclusion:

– Students should work in their groups to produce a flow chart of the progression of cause and effect from the end of the Civil War to the ratification of the 15th Amendment.

– Groups should share their flow chart and each group will modify/adjust their flowchart based on feedback received

 

Extended activity: Have students write a creative paragraph describing their life as a 50-year old African-American man living in modern South Carolina if the 14th and 15th Amendments had never been passed and there had never been a successful civil rights movement.

 

Adapted from:

http://www.teachingushistory.org/lessons/reconlegislation.htmlLesson 2: (2- 3 days – depending on time period available this lesson can be adapted to a 45 to a 90-minute block)

 

Objectives:

  • Explain the effects of Reconstruction on African Americans, including their new rights and restrictions, their motivations to relocate to the North and the West, and the actions of the Freedmen’s Bureau.
  • Compare the economic and social effects of Reconstruction on different populations, including the move from farms to factories and the change from the plantation system to sharecropping.
  • Explain the purposes of Reconstruction with attention to the economic, social, political, and geographic problems facing the South, including reconstruction of towns, factories, farms, and transportation systems; the effects of emancipation; racial tension; tension between social classes; and disagreement over voting rights.

 

Materials:

Africana Archives: Freedmen’s Bureau Records

 

http://www.africanaheritage.com/Freedmens_Bureau.asp

 

Lots of useful links, helpful websites and teachers’ resources
http://freedmensbureau.com/

 

Lots of useful links and helpful websites for teachers
 

The Valley of the Shadow – Aftermath

Augusta County, Virginia, Personal Papers

 

http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/VoS/personalpapers/browse/p3augusta.html

 

 

This page provides access to letters, diaries, account books and other personal papers kept by people from Augusta County, Virginia in the years after the Civil War.  The links on this page open summaries for collections and provide direct access to the documents themselves.
The Valley of the Shadow – Augusta County: Freedmen’s Bureau Register of Complaints http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/papers/BD4000

 

This page provides the Freedmen’s Bureau Register of Complaints for Augusta County, Virginia after the war. (1865- 1867)
The Valley of the Shadow – Aftermath

Franklin County, Pennsylvania, Personal Papers

 

http://vshadow.vcdh.virginia.edu/personalpapers/browse/p3franklin.html

 

This page provides access to letters, diaries, account books and other personal papers kept by people from Franklin County, Pennsylvania, in the years after the Civil War.  The links on this page open summaries for collections and provide direct access to the documents themselves.
Families and Freedom: A Documentary History of African-American Kinship in the Civil War Era

 

http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/fafpg.htm

 

 

*Sample online documents

Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War

 

http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/falpg.htm

 

*Sample online documents
Slaves No More: Three Essays on Emancipation and the Civil War

 

http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/snmpg.htm *Sample online documents

 

Here are some sample online documents from 1865:

 

 

Post-1865 (all of these sample documents can be found here: http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/sampdocs.htm)

 

Introduction:

 

After the Civil War, what was life like for a freed slave?  What was life like for an African American who was already free?

 

To meet the 3 major objectives, students will use materials from the list provided to answer these essential Questions:

 

  • Imagine that you are a newly freed slave during Reconstruction. Would you exercise your newly defined right to vote? Explain.

 

  • Imagine Frederick Douglass living in present day Maryland. What changes do you think he would see?

 

  • Imagine that you are the Black parent of a young child who is being held in the 19th century in an illegal child apprenticeship. Given what you know, what actions might you take?

 

  • Suppose that you are a White agent of the Freedmen’s Bureau, having encountered the racist actions of local court judges. What means do you have available to you to try to bring justice for Black people?

 

  • What have you learned before about the Freedmen’s Bureau and how does this paper add to or change that view?

 

  • What similarities do you see in the situation faced by Freedmen’s Bureau agents and the situation of those who work in contemporary social service agencies? What lessons might contemporary workers take from the history of the Bureau?

 

(Questions adapted from: http://www.udel.edu/BlackHistory/lesson5.html)

 

Activities:

 

Create a PowerPoint to show you learned information about the following topics:

 

Conclusion:

 

Students will create and present their PowerPoints which will document different lessons they learned from the materials available online.

 

Lesson 3:  Introducing the Voices from the Days of Slavery

(2- 3 days – depending on time period available this lesson can be adapted to a 45 to a 90-minute block)

 

Objectives:

  • To better understand and to learn more about the lives and the contributions of freed slaves
  • To explore and compare and contrast literature associated with freed slaves and to interpret these pieces of literature using critical thinking skills
  • To read and listen to first-hand accounts of American slavery and present five aspects of their respective slave’s life to the class.

 

Materials:

Voices from the Days of Slavery

 

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/voices/index.html

 

From the website (for the teacher):  The almost seven hours of recorded interviews presented here took place between 1932 and 1975 in nine Southern states. Twenty-three interviewees, born between 1823 and the early 1860s, discuss how they felt about slavery, slaveholders, coercion of slaves, their families, and freedom. Several individuals sing songs, many of which were learned during the time of their enslavement. It is important to note that all of the interviewees spoke sixty or more years after the end of their enslavement, and it is their full lives that are reflected in these recordings. The individuals documented in this presentation have much to say about living as African Americans from the 1870s to the 1930s, and beyond.   All known recordings of former slaves in the American Folklife Center are included in this presentation. Some are being made publicly available for the first time and several others already available now include complete transcriptions. Unfortunately, not all the recordings are clearly audible. Although the original tapes and discs are generally in good physical condition, background noise and poorly positioned microphones make it extremely difficult to follow many of the interviews.
Faces and Voices from the Presentation on the Voices from the Days of Slavery

 

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/voices/vfssp.html

 

For a list of interviewees, use this website

·       Fountain Hughes

·       George Johnson

·       Uncle Bob Ledbetter

·       Uncle Billy McCrea

·       Isom Moseley

·       Wallace Quarterman

·       Charlie Smith

 

Biographies of the Interviewers

 

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/voices/vfsbio.html

 

For a list of interviewers, use this website

·       Mary Elizabeth Barnicle

·       John Henry Faulk

·       Elizabeth Lyttleton Harold

·       Archibald A. Hill

·       Zora Neale Hurston

·       Charles S. Johnson

·       Lewis Jones

·       Roscoe E. Lewis

·       Alan Lomax

·       John Avery Lomax

·       Ruby Lomax

·       Guy Sumner Lowman

·       Robert Sonkin

·       Elmer E. Sparks

·       Lorenzo Dow Turner

·       John Wesley Work

 

 

An Introduction to the WPA Slave Narratives

 

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snintro00.html

 

From the website (for the teacher): Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938 contains more than 2,300 first-person accounts of slavery and 500 black-and-white photographs of former slaves. These narratives were collected in the 1930s as part of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and assembled and microfilmed in 1941 as the seventeen-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. This online collection is a joint presentation of the Manuscript and Prints and Photographs Divisions of the Library of Congress and includes more than 200 photographs from the Prints and Photographs Division that are now made available to the public for the first time.
An Introduction to the Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project

 

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices00.html

 

 

John W. Fields, Age 89

(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices01.html)

Sarah Frances Shaw Graves, Age 87

(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices02.html)

Sarah Gudger, Age 121

(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices03.html)

Charley Williams, Age 94

(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices04.html)

James Cape, Age over 100

(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices05.html)

Tempie Cummins, Age Unknown

(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices06.html)

William Moore, Age 82

(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices07.html)

Walter Rimm, Age 80

(http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices08.html)

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/mesnbibStates1.html Click here for a list of Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project by State

 

 

Introduction:

Students will review the objectives of WPA initiative, Born in Slavery: Slave Narratives From the Federal Workers’ Project and the Voices from the Days of Slavery project.

  • What do you know about slavery in America?
  • What have you read, watched, or heard about slavery?
  • What do you know about how the enslaved felt about slavery?
  • What do you know about how the owners felt about slavery?
  • What do you know about the time period in which they lived?

 

Activity:

  1. Students will begin by identifying two questions they would ask a former slave. Students should have a reason for why they want to ask a specific question.

 

  1. Teacher will discuss with students the questions they would ask. Then show students the actual questions that those who wrote the Slave Narratives asked.

-To find this list of questions for the Federal Writer’s Project: click here:

(http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=mesn&fileName=001/mesn001.db&recNum=18)

 

Here you will see 20 questions on p. xx – xxii

 

  1. Students will then listen to one of the slave narrative stories as a whole group. Teacher can select which one to listen to from the websites listed under materials.

 

  1. Students will then be divided into groups. Some stations should have audio available for students to listen to the recorded interviews.

 

  1. Use handout titled “Slave Narrative Discussion Group Questions”

 

  1. Students will also discuss with the teacher the potential bias and the potential difficulties in conducting interviews many years after the events occurred – students will also discuss in groups the potential flaws in the interview results based on interviewers and interviewees (see bibliography for a link to another unit detailing bias of these interviews)

 

Conclusion:

 

  • Students will present the materials they learned from at least 1 narrative to the class.
  • Students will answer questions (See handout) about the other narratives they read in the groups.
  • To present information to class: students can create a poster board, a graphic organizer, or a hand out.

 

(Lesson plan adapted from: Campos, D. (2006). Slave narratives from the federal writers project 1936-1938: Stories as a catalyst for historical comprehension. Black History Bulletin, 69(2), 8-14.

 

Name ________________________

 

Slave Narrative Directions and Discussion Group Questions

 

1.     Website #1:  Voices from the Days of Slavery

2.      

 

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/voices/vfssp.html  

 

(Click here for a list of interviews)

 

Read and analyze at least 1 of the narratives listed here.

(See questions below)

 

3.     Website #2: Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project

 

 

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snvoices00.html 

 

(Click here for a list of interviews)

 

Read and analyze at least 1 of the narratives listed here.

(See questions below)

 

4.     Website #3: Slave Narratives organized by State

 

 

 

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/mesnbibStates1.html

 

(Click here for a list of Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project by State)

 

Read and analyze at least 1 of the narratives listed from a state that you did not hear yet.

(See questions below)

 

 

 

If included, plug in the audio and listen to the narrative.  Read along as you listen to the narrative.

 

In total you are responsible for the answers to the questions below about 3 total narratives.

 

As a group answer at least 2 of the following questions from each section:

 

Section 1: Identify the author or the source

* Who is sharing their story?

* When was he/she a slave and for how long?

* Where did he/she live?

* How does he/she identify his/her self?

 

Section 2:  Interpret the literal meaning of the historical passage

* What are some key aspects of his/her narrative? List three that are most meaningful to the group and explain why.

* What are some events or circumstances of his/her life the group was most surprised to learn? Why?

* Identify one incident that the group perceives as inhumane and another that the group considers humane (for the time period). Identify what happened. Who was involved? Where did it happen? What events led to the incident? What seems to be the outcomes of the incident?

 

Section 3:  What are the central ideas from the narrative?

* Overall, what does the narrative convey? Happiness? Sadness? Matter-of-fact? Nostalgia?

* How might their age while a slave, tenure as a slave, and gender have affected their perspective?

* How did he/she relate to their masters and mistresses? How can you tell?

* How did he/she relate to other slaves? How can you tell?

 

Section 4:  Interpret the historical facts and understand the importance of historical interpretations

* What might have happened had the WPA project not existed and instead the information (from the narrative) was passed by word of mouth?

* What elements might have been omitted if the facts were interpreted and retold?

* Why is the interpretation of these narratives as important as the actual narratives? Conversely, how might interpretation ruin the narrative?

* How authentic is the story considering that many of the slaves were in their eighties, nineties, and over a hundred years old?

 

Section 5: What did you think about the interviewee?

* What is your general impression about his/her character?

* What was his/her outlook on life?

* What are his/her strengths and weaknesses?

* What values did he/she have? What do you believe influenced them?

* Describe his/her spirituality. From where did they draw strength?

* What did you admire about him/her?

 

Section 6: Appreciate historical differences and experiences

* What can you gather about the times that they lived? How might the white and rich have felt about this historical period? Conversely, how might the white and poor have regarded this period?

* What might those who favored slavery have believed?

* What might they have believed when the slaves were freed?

* How might business have affected the way the slaves were perceived and treated?

* How might his/her life compare to those who were white and poor?

* What might those who were brutal with their slaves have believed?

* What might those who were humane with their slaves have believed?

 

 

After your group has discussed the answer to 2 questions from each of the section make sure you record your answers and hand them in.  (Remember you are responsible to answer the questions about 3 different narratives)

 

Now, choose one narrative that really stuck out to you and prepare to present that information to the rest of the class.

 

Your group can create a poster board, a graphic organizer, a power point or a hand out.

 

Be creative!

 

Due date _____________________

 

 

 

Standards

 

The Core Curriculum of the School District of Philadelphia is aligned to Pennsylvania Academic Standards. The standards in this unit will align with many standards including reading, writing and critical thinking as well as social studies.

 

Reading Standards for Literature 6-12 (grade 8 students)

 

  • Cite several pieces of textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • Determine a theme or central idea of a text and analyze its development over the course of the text; provide an objective summary of the text
  • Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).
  • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of rhymes and other repetitions of sounds (e.g., alliteration) on a specific verse or stanza of a poem or section of a story or drama.
  • Analyze how a drama’s or poem’s form or structure (e.g., soliloquy, sonnet) contributes to its meaning.
  • Analyze how an author develops and contrasts the points of view of different characters or narrators in a text.

 

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies 6-12 (grade 8 students)

 

  • Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
  • Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
  • Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
  • Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
  • Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
  • Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
  • Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
  • Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.

 

Annotated Bibliography

Alexander, D. (2004). “Forty Acres and a Mule: The Ruined Hope of Reconstruction.”

Humanities, 25(1), 26-29.

 

This article, intended for teachers, provides an examination of the 12 years that followed the Civil War when America struggled to extend rights to African Americans.  It provides historical information on the beginning and the end of Radical Reconstruction.

 

 

Bassett, John S.  Makers of a New Nation.  New Haven:  Yale University Press, 1928.

 

This secondary source provides an overview for teachers.  Also, what might be of interest is the Library of Congress’s paper on John Spencer Bassett’s life work and accomplishments which can be accessed here:  http://lcweb2.loc.gov/service/mss/eadxmlmss/eadpdfmss/2009/ms009305.pdf

 

 

Berlin, I., Fields, B., Miller, S. Reidy, J. and Rowland, L. Free At Last: A Documentary

History of Slavery, Freedom and the Civil War. New York: The New Press, 1992.

Access at http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/falpg.htm

 

This documentary history gives the accounts of slaves and former slaves. There are many online sample documents found at the link above that will provide students with first hand accounts of the Civil War time period.

 

 

Berlin, I., Fields, B., Miller, S. Reidy, J. and Rowland, L. Slaves No More: Three Essays

on Emancipation and the Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press:

  1. http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/snmpg.htm

 

This paperback includes three essays on the destruction of slavery and the redefinition of freedom.  This provides an overview of the emancipation during the Civil War and emphasizes the role that slaves and former slaves had.

 

 

Berlin, I. and Rowland, L. Families and Freedom: A Documentary History of African-

American Kinship in the Civil War Era.  New York: The New Press, 1997.

http://www.history.umd.edu/Freedmen/fafpg.htm

 

Families and Freedom tells the story of the remaking of the black family during the Civil War and early Reconstruction.  The first hand accounts in this book provide insight about the details of the lives of those who were slaves as they became free.

 

 

 

Blackmon, Douglas A.   Slavery by another name: The Re-Enslavement of

Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II. New York: Anchor Press, 2009.

 

Blackmon writes about the aftermath of the Civil War through WWII.  He refers to many original documents and personal narratives.  This would be an overview for teachers who want to read about the legacy of racism and how slaves who gained their freedom found themselves back in a position of involuntary servitude later on.

 

 

Botkin. B.A. Lay My Burden Down: A Folk History of Slavery. Chicago: University of

Chicago Press, 1945.

 

B.A. Botkin edits this folk history of slavery.  Stories of slaves were collected during the years of the great depression and this compilation provides readers with first hand accounts of those who were born in slavery, and retell their stories.

 

 

Campos, D. (2006). “Slave narratives from the federal writers project 1936-1938: Stories as a catalyst for historical comprehension.” Black History Bulletin, 69(2), 8-14.

 

This is an article with a useful lesson plan adapted in this unit.  The lesson plan could be used for middle school or high school students.  The lesson plan shows relevant ways to use primary source documents.

 

 

English, B. (2009). “A Black Belt Anomaly: Biracial Cooperation in Reconstruction-era

Perry County, 1865-1874.” Alabama Review, 62(1), 3-36.

 

In Perry County, Alabama there was a social condition unlike that of the other areas.   Racial tensions in other areas were high, but in this particular county in Alabama there was cooperation and calmer race relations.  This article would be useful for a teacher looking to gain more information about the differences in the many areas during the Reconstruction era.

 

 

Few, Jenel. (2000).  “Unkept promise slowed recovery: Reversal of order to give

freedmen 40 acres and a mule made transition from slavery harder.” The Augusta Chronicle. Accessed at: http://old.chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2000/02/29/met_285086.shtml

 

This article provides an online timeline of the arrival of slaves and a useful narrative about the impact that the reversal of the empty promise of 40 acres and a mule had on blacks.  This is a helpful article for teachers to have background information about the impact of 40 acres and a mule as well as students to read if they want a brief overview.

 

 

Foner, Eric. America’s Reconstruction: People and Politics After the Civil War.  New

York: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1988.

 

Eric Foner is a professor of History at Columbia University and if you want more information on his credentials, research, or published books, please visit: http://www.ericfoner.com/   He also designed in part this exhibit based on this book:  http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/reconstruction/index.html   This website would be useful for students to use and explore.

 

 

Hahn, Steven.  A Nation Under Our Feet. Cambridge:  Belknap Press, 2005.

 

This book for teachers explains the political relations that developed under slavery.  Hahn explains how political communities were built and how local African American leaders developed a movement for self-governance.

 

 

Hurmence, Belinda. Slavery Time When I Was Chillun. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons,

1997.

 

This teacher and student resource tells the story of 12 slaves, both men and women.  Hurmence lets the people do their talking of their experiences and stories.  Photos are included but recommended for ages ten years and up.

 

 

Huston, James L. (2005). “An Alternative to the Tragic Era: Applying the Virtues of

Bureaucracy to the Reconstruction Dilemma.” Civil War History, 51(4), 403-415, 356.

 

This scholarly article provides teachers with information regarding the reconstruction dilemma.  Houston discusses hypothetical situations that would have occurred had the Freedmen’s Bureau had the power and support to the extent that it was needed.  For an excerpt of the article please visit here:  http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/civil_war_history/v051/51.4huston02.html

 

 

Olwell, Russell. (1999). “Use narrative to teach middle school students about

reconstruction” The Social Studies. 90(5), 205-209.

 

This article written by Russell Olwell, a teacher at the Emerson School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a lecturer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, explains why teachers should use narratives to teach middle school students.  Because this unit focuses heavily on primary sources and narratives, this is a helpful article for teachers.

 

 

 

Octavia V. Rogers Albert (AuthorRiddle, Wesley Allen (1995). “The origins of black sharecropping.” The Mississippi

Quarterly (49)1. 53+.

 

This teacher resource from an academic journal presents information on sharecropping and the role that it played for blacks in the South during the 19th century.

 

 

Schwalm, Leslie A. A Hard Fight for We: Women’s Transition from Slavery to Freedom

in South Carolina. Champaign, Illinois:  University of Illinois Press: 1997.

 

This book, a resource for teachers, discusses the lives and efforts of freedwomen to gain freedom and rights during Reconstruction.  The study is of slave women on rice plantations who lived in the lowcountry South Carolina.

 

 

Schwalm, Leslie A.  (1997). “Sweet Dreams of Freedom”: Freedwomen’s reconstruction

of life and labor in low country South Carolina.” Journal of Women’s History, 9(1), 9-38.

 

If you want to read more about women and understand the struggle that African American women had during their life after freedom, then you should read this article.  Leslie Schwalm is a professor at the University of Iowa and this article allows the reader to connect with the feelings and emotions of those women living in South Carolina after the Civil War.

 

 

Rawick. George P. The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography. (41 volumes)

Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1972.

 

Rawick edited 41 volumes of slave narratives from states including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia.  This collection of slave narratives is housed in the Rare Book Room of the Library of Congress.  The largest collection in this series is from Arkansas.

 

 

Yetman, Norman R. Voices from Slavery: 100 Authentic Slave Narratives. New York:

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1970.

 

100 first person accounts of what it was like to be a slave in the South are presented in this work.  There are 32 photographs in this book.  › Visit Amazon’s Octavia V. Rogers Albert PageFind all the books, read about the author, and mSee search results for this author

 

 

Useful Are you an author? Learn about Author Central Octavia V. Rogers Albert (Author) Visit Amazon’s Octavia V. Rogers Albert PageFind all the books, read about the author, and more.

See search results for this author

Are you an author? Learn about Author Central

websites used for this unit’s lesson plans:

 

American Black Codes of 1865-1866: (each state’s black codes can be found by clicking on the website and then on the actual state on the map on the website)

http://home.gwu.edu/~jjhawkin/BlackCodes/BlackCodes.htm

 

Black Codes of South Carolina, December, 1865

http://www.teachingushistory.org/ttrove/scblackcodes.htm

 

Black Codes of South Carolina: (Printable PDF)

http://www.teachingushistory.org/ttrove/scblackcodes.htm

 

Reconstruction Links:

http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/reconstruction/resources.html

http://www.besthistorysites.net/index.php/american-history/1800/reconstruction

 

Slave Narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936-1938

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/snhtml/snhome.html

 

South Carolina House of Representatives.  An Act to Establish and Regulate the Domestic Relations of Persons of Color and Amend the Law in Relation to Paupers and Vagrancy.  General Assembly, 19 December 1865.  House Journal 269-285. (also known as SC Black Codes) Accessed at: http://www.teachingushistory.org/tTrove/scblackcodes.htm

 

U.S. Constitution:

Amendment 13 (http://ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=40)

Amendment 14 (http://ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=43)

Amendment 15 (http://ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=44)

 

Voices from the Days of Slavery

http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/voices/index.html

 

See Lesson Plans 1- 3 for additional links and resources.

 

Additional Resources for Teachers:

 

Another TIP unit with relevant resources regarding the validity of the slave narratives from the Federal Writers’ Project can be accessed here:

http://www.tip.sas.upenn.edu/curriculum/units/2009/01/09.01.04.pdf