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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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A Slave's Walk in Colonial New York

By 1740, almost twenty percent of New York's population was African American and roughly half of white households owned at least one slave.  While slaves were forced to live and work alongside whites, they sought out the company of other [...]

New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery, Conspiracy in Eighteenth-Century Manhattan (Excerpt)

In the following passage, historian Jill Lepore carefully considers an enslaved man's walk through 1740s Manhattan. The slave, who was known as Pedro, described a Sunday walk through Manhattan as part of a confession that he gave during the [...]

A Chinese Immigrant Recalls the Dangers of Railroad Work

From the 1860s to the 1880s, thousands of Chinese immigrants found work in railroad construction in the West, notably on the Central Pacific line of the First Transcontinental Railroad, which was built primarily by Chinese. The extreme danger of [...]

Freedom's Daughters (Excerpt)

Lynne Olson's Freedom's Daughters shines light on the often-overlooked role that women played in the civil rights movement. In the preface to her book, Olson sketches some brief biographies of a few of the outstanding female civil rights leaders and [...]

"The Fight for Educational Reform": Chicano Youth Demand Change

In this chapter from Chicano!: The History of the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement F. Arturo Rosales explains the environment from which this Chicano youth movement developed and the tactics used by this student movement to bring about [...]

An Historian Reevaluates Civil Rights Scholarship

In this forward to Freedom North: Black Freedom Struggles Outside the South 1940-1980, Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham sketches an outline of the contributions of African Americans from the Northeast, West Coast and Midwest in shaping the Civil Rights [...]

Item Type: Book (excerpt)
A Southern Professor Defends the Fugitive Slave Law

Albert Taylor Bledsoe, a professor at the University of Virginia, wrote this proslavery tract, Liberty and Slavery, in 1856. Bledsoe defended the constitutionality of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, justified slavery as compatible with the Bible, [...]

Diners Describe the First Chinese Restaurants in America

The first Chinese eateries in America sprang up in 1850s California and catered to Cantonese miners and railroad laborers. Known as "chow chows" (Chinese slang for anything edible), they were identified by yellow triangle signs. By the 1880s San [...]

Cartoonist Depicts U.S. Escalation in Vietnam

Not long after his election in 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson moved to increase American involvement in Vietnam. This policy would soon result in the defacto American take-over of the effort against the North Vietnamese Communists. In the week this [...]

Item Type: Cartoon
Uncle Sam Watches over Cuba and the Philippines

The Spanish-American War ended in December, 1898, when Spain surrendered to the U.S. and negotiated a peace treaty that sold Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines to the U.S. Cuba remained independent, but firmly under the influence of the United [...]

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