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Herb - social history for every classroom

menuAmerican Social History Project  ·    Center for Media and Learning

  • Historical Eras > Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877) (x)
  • Item Type > Diary/Letter (x)

We found 18 items that match your search

A Young Visitor Describes the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition

In July 1876, 17-year-old Frank Thomas recorded his experiences on a trip in Philadelphia in these diary entries. Chief among the city's attractions was the Centennial Exhibition. A showcase for American industry, agriculture, art, and architecture [...]

An African-American Soldier Asks for Equal Pay

James Henry Gooding, an African-American soldier fighting on Morris Island, South Carolina, writes to President Lincoln asking for better pay. Initially, black soliders in the Union Army were paid only $10 a month, from which $3 was deducted for [...]

An African-American Soldier Writes on Behalf of His Fellow Troops

John F. Shorter, an African-American solider writing on behalf of his fellow members of the Massachusetts 55th Regiment, addresses President Lincoln over the issue of unfair pay. Shorter charges that he and his fellow soldiers have received no pay [...]

A Plantation Mistress Decries a "Monstrous System"

Mary Boykin Chestnut was the wife of a wealthy South Carolina planter who kept a diary during the Civil War. Published long after the war, the diary included many insightful and pointed criticisms of slavery, such as this passage, in which she calls [...]

Union Soldiers Condemn Slavery

Although the attitudes of many white Union soldiers toward slavery and emancipation ranged from indifference to outright racial hostility, others viewed the issue as central to their participation in the war. The following quotations, taken from [...]

Virginia Freedmen Resolve to Be "Efficient Citizens of these United States"

After emancipation, former slaves throughout the South articulated their hopes and expectations for full citizenship. In this letter to the newly created Freedmen's Bureau, a group of African-Americans in Virginia list the economic and social needs [...]

Freedpeople Describe the Meanings of Freedom

At the end of the Civil War, Northern officials were not yet sure what exactly freedom would entail for the millions of freedpeople in the South. The following first-person accounts by former slaves and free blacks describe their expectations, [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]