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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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During the Civil War, John Boston took advantage of the nearby presence of Union troops to runaway. But in this case, Boston had run into a Union camp in Maryland, a slave state fighting on the side of the Union. This meant that the regiment from…

Harriet Tubman was among the best known conductors of the Underground Railroad, a network of enslaved people, free blacks, and white sympathizers that assisted thousands of runaway slaves escape north. During the Civil War, Tubman offered her…

In May, 1861, Union General Benjamin Butler offered military protection to runaway slaves in Virginia, declaring them wartime "contraband." In every region touched by the war, African-American men, women, and children flocked to the protection…

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In this journalistic sketch, a group of African American soldiers liberates a plantation in eastern North Carolina. The troops were the so-called "African Brigade" composed of black recruits from Massachusetts and newly freed contraband slaves from…

Harriet Tubman was among the best known conductors of the Underground Railroad, a network of enslaved people, free blacks, and white sympathizers that assisted thousands of runaway slaves escape north. During the Civil War, Tubman offered her…

Even as the dramatic events of the Civil War were unfolding, artists and sculptors struggled to depict emancipation. After the war, as local communities and the nation attempted to memorialize the conflict and the transformation of four million…

Historian Greg Downs describes the motivations that drove non-slaveholding white Southerners to fight for the Confederacy and to protect slavery.

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In the testimony that follows, a general tells Congress how contraband slaves served his army and had a dramatic impact on the way Union soldiers thought about slavery and freedom.

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This scene of white patrollers examining “Negro passes” in Mississippi illustrates the constraints placed on all African Americans in the slave South. This news illustration captured a scene during the Civil War, when slave owners in…

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In this activity students research roles as either Irish immigrants or African-American residents in the midst of the New York City Draft Riots that took place in July 1863. Students gather evidence from primary sources to develop their characters,…
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