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Herb - social history for every classroom

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“A colored family in a one room light housekeeping apartment”

One of the first challenges for southern migrants who arrived in Northern cities like Chicago was finding a place to live. One report tells of a single day when 600 families applied to live in 53 housing units. Given the demand, unscrupulous [...]

Item Type: Photograph
Understanding the Five Points Census Database worksheet

This worksheet is designed to help students organize and understand the data retrieved from the 1855 Census Database.

A Virginia Slave Puts His Writing Skills to Good Use

In this selection from an oral history interview, William L. Johnson, Jr., describes a fellow slave who resisted slavery by learning to read and write and in turn helped other slaves to resist. The interview was one of thousands conducted with [...]

Item Type: Oral History
A Slave Named Sukie Resists a Master's Advances

While slaves knew that they would face harsh punishments for acts of open resistance, many did so anyway. In this selection from an oral history interview, Fannie Berry describes a surprising act of defiance by a fellow slave, one that illustrates [...]

Item Type: Oral History
Night Patrols Check Slave Passes in Mississippi

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 [...]

Selections from Alabama's Laws Governing Slaves

While slaveholders defended slavery as a benign system, this selection of laws, on the books in Alabama in 1833, suggest that slaves themselves were finding many ways to resist and escape it. Whites became particularly concerned about slave [...]

Pro-Slavery Pamphlet, circa 1860

Two pages from a proslavery tract published around 1860 present the contrasting fates of free and unfree labor. After decades of attack from abolitionists, in the 1850s slavery advocates defended plantation slavery as the most efficient and most [...]

Item Type: Poster/Print
Colonial Crowds Protest the Stamp Act (short version)

The British parliament passed the Stamp Act in 1765. The act required that colonists buy a stamp from the government for most printed items, such as newspapers, contracts, books, playing cards, and court documents. Popular protests against the new [...]

A Former Slave Recalls "a Mournful Scene" in the New Orleans Slave Market

In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free African American living in New York, was kidnapped while visiting Washington, D.C., and sold into slavery. He spent the next twelve years working on plantations in Louisiana, finally attaining freedom in 1853. His [...]

John Adams Explains Why People Without Property Should Not Be Able to Vote

James Sullivan, a state court judge in Massachusetts and colleague of John Adams, was often sympathetic to those who thought women and non-elite men should have a voice in the new nation’s government. Adams disagreed, explaining to Sullivan [...]

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