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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877) (x)

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Dr. Toer's Amazing Lantern Show: A Different View of Emancipation Viewer's Guide

This booklet is curriculum support for the American Social History Project's 30-minute documentary Dr. Toer's Amazing Lantern Show: A Different View of Emancipation. The viewer's guide contains background information on issues raised by the [...]

On to Liberty

Painter Theodor Kaufmann was a German immigrant and abolitionist who served in the Union army during the Civil War. Throughout the war, African-American men, women, and children escaped slavery by fleeing to Union encampments. Union commanders [...]

The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments

Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing slavery, before the Civil War had ended. Once the war was over, white southerners passed laws (known as Black Codes) to keep freedmen from exercising their rights, and Congress [...]

Black Codes Restrict Newly Won Freedom

In the fall of 1865, white southerners, most of them ex-Confederates and planters, won large majorities in local and state elections throughout the South. They quickly passed a series of restrictive laws, or Black Codes, which varied only slightly [...]

A Freedman and a General Discuss the Meanings of Freedom

What exactly should be done for freedmen, if anything, was hotly debated in the years following the Civil War. As this exchange between a Union military officer and a former slave in Arkansas shows, even the meaning of freedom was up for grabs.

The Freedmen's Bureau Aids Civil War Refugees

In the chaotic last days of the Civil War, newly emancipated slaves were on the move across the South. Some had escaped bondage by joining Union military forces and following them; others were attempting to reunite with lost family members. Most had [...]

Gathering the Dead and Wounded

A Harper’s Weekly engraving shows some of the grim results of a terrorist attack on the African-American citizens of the rural town of Colfax, Louisiana, in April 1873. Starting in 1871, the Democratic party in several southern states began an [...]

A Northern Reformer Teaches Freed Children to Read

Calling themselves Gideon’s Band (after the biblical hero), many northern reformers went to the Sea Islands in Georgia to live with and assist the freed population. Abolitionist Laura M. Towne, shown here with three of her students, ran a [...]

A Northern Teacher Finds Eager Students and Threatening Neighbors

Edmonia Highgate, the daughter of freed slaves, grew up and was educated in New York. She was part of a wave of northern reformers who traveled south as the Civil War was still ongoing to set up schools for freedpeople, both adults and children. In [...]

A South Carolina Landowner Attempts to Indenture a Free Child

When slavery ended, southern landowners attempted to establish a labor system that would pay freedpeople low wages and keep them under strict control. One method of accomplishing this was through indenture contracts for African-American children who [...]

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