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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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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 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo Preserves Mexicans' Rights in the Southwest

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American War in 1848, ceded 525,000 square miles--55% of--Mexican territory to the United States. In exchange, the United States paid approximately $15 million in damages to pay for [...]

Chart of Rights and Population in Revolutionary America

The 1770s and 1780s were a period of uneven social change in America. The first table shows the extent to which various groups in society could vote, serve on juries and own property through the 1780s. The second table shows a breakdown of the U.S. [...]

Maps of Women's Suffrage Prior to the 19th Amendment

Although early suffragists were not successful in passing a federal constitutional amendment to give women the right to vote, activists worked hard at the local and state levels throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They formed local [...]

The 14th and 15th Amendments

Following the Civil War and abolition of slavery, Republicans in Congress passed reconstruction laws meant to guarantee full citizenship and suffrage to African Americans. The 14th amendment required states to guarantee the rights of all citizens, [...]

Black Chicagoans Describe Their Great Migration Experiences

In the summer of 1919, violence broke out between whites and African Americans in Chicago. The five-day riot left thirty-eight people dead and more than five hundred people injured. The city formed a Commission on Race Relations to study what [...]

Item Type: Book (excerpt)
Bayard Rustin Explains Car Pools in the Montgomery Bus Boycott

African-American civil rights activist Bayard Rustin advised Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the Montgomery bus boycott. In this excerpt from his diary, Rustin describes how the city's black residents found ways to get to and from work without [...]

Tags: Boycotts
Item Type: Diary/Letter
An African-American Woman Describes Segregated Buses in Montgomery, Alabama

During the Montgomery bus boycott, researchers from Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee visited Montgomery to learn more about the boycott and document it. Researcher Willie Lee interviewed an African-American woman who worked as a domestic, who [...]

Tags: Boycotts
Item Type: Oral History
Background Essay on the March on Washington Movement

This essay describes the history of the March on Washington Movement, from its beginnings in 1941 to the famous 1963 March.

African-American Women Threaten a Bus Boycott in Montgomery (with text supports)

In May 1954, the Women's Political Council of Montgomery, Alabama wrote a letter to the Mayor of Montgomery asking for changes that would make the city’s public bus system treat African-American riders with more fairness. The Women’s [...]

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