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menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

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Matching Historical Understandings for Reconstruction worksheet

This worksheet helps students match primary source documents with three historical understandings for Reconstruction. It is used as a part of the activity "Create a Magic Lantern Show," but it can be used on its own to help students classify [...]

The Union Redistributes Abandoned Plantations

This excerpt from Freedom's Unfinished Revolution describes the Union Army's decision to distributed abandoned plantation lands to former slaves during the Civil War. The excerpt also explains the problems freedpeople encountered after President [...]

Forty Acres worksheet

This worksheet helps students analyze documents relating to the question of the redistribution of land at the end of the Civil War. The instructions and suggested documents for this activity can be found in "Forty Acres? The Question of Land at the [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]