Featured Primary Sources

Jim Crow and the Great Migration

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. In addition, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

Detail from a "Birth of a Nation" poster, ca. 1940

Birth of a Nation, 1915

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Giles B. Jackson, ca. 1910 (Virginia Historical Society)

Disfranchisement of African American voters in Virginia, 1901

Creator: Giles Jackson Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Students and teachers at the Calhoun School in Alabama (Gilder Lehrman Collectio

Frederick Douglass on Jim Crow, 1887

Creator: Frederick Douglass Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Frederick Douglass to Robert Adams, December 4, 1888. (GLC04997)

Frederick Douglass on the disfranchisement of black voters, 1888

Creator: Frederick Douglass Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
NAACP, “For the Good of America” broadside, ca. 1926. (GLC06197)

Lynching in America, ca. 1926

Creator: National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

Ku Klux Klan to Davie Jeems, ca. 1868 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A Ku Klux Klan threat, 1868

Creator: Ku Klux Klan Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Color Voters Read, broadside, 1894. (GLC09000)

Campaigning for the African American vote in Georgia, 1894

Creator: the State Democratic Party of Georgia Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:
The Hon. Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi, ca. 1870 (Library of Congress)

Nominating an African American for vice president, 1880

Creator: James Milton Turner Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Frederick Douglass to Thomas B. Pugh, November 17, 1870 (GLC01954)

Racism in the North: Frederick Douglass on “a vulgar and senseless prejudice,” 1870

Creator: Frederick Douglass Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: