African American History

The essays in this section have been written by leading scholars of American history. They provide additional depth on events and ideas referred to in the introductory essay and, in some cases, different interpretations by historians looking at the same events. These essays are particularly useful in introducing your students to one of the most exciting aspects of studying history—understanding the past from a variety of perspectives.

Martin Luther King Memorial March, April 4, 1998. (GLC08359)

A Place in History: Historical Perspective on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Author: James Oliver Horton Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

The Civil Rights Movement

Author: Taylor Branch Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

The Failure of Compromise

Author: Bruce Levine Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

The First Age of Reform

Author: Ronald G. Walters Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Integrated class at Anacostia High School in Washington, DC, 1957. (Library of C

A Local and National Story: The Civil Rights Movement in Postwar Washington, DC

Author: Wendell E. Pritchett Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Barack Obama, January 13, 2009, one week before his inauguration as President of

A More Perfect Union? Barack Obama and the Politics of Unity

Author: Thomas J. Sugrue Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Abolitionist flag, ca. 1859. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Abolition and Antebellum Reform

Author: Ronald G. Walters Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, 1773

Abolition and Religion

Author: Robert Abzug Curriculum Subjects: Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Frederick Douglass to Maria Webb, Nov. 30, 1859. (GLC08360)

Admiration and Ambivalence: Frederick Douglass and John Brown

Author: David W. Blight Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Book inscribed by Martin Luther King, Jr., to Fr. Tom Thrasher of Montgomery. Th

African American Religious Leadership and the Civil Rights Movement

Author: Clarence Taylor Curriculum Subjects: Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Thomas Clarkson, The History of the Rise, Progress and Accomplishment . . .

African Immigration to Colonial America

Author: Ira Berlin Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Frederick Douglass, ca. 1880s. (GLC07926.02)

Allies for Emancipation? Black Abolitionists and Abraham Lincoln

Author: Manisha Sinha Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Angelina Grimke’s Appeal to the Christian Women of the South, 1836. (Gilder Lehr

Angelina and Sarah Grimke: Abolitionist Sisters

Author: Carol Berkin Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The Works of John Woolman (Philadelphia: Crukshank, 1774) (GLC06191p253)

Anti-Slavery before the Revolutionary War

Author: Sylvia R. Frey Curriculum Subjects: Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
St. Louis Brown’s pitcher Satchel Paige, 1952. (LC-DIG-ppmsca-18778)

Before Jackie: How Strikeout King Satchel Paige Struck Down Jim Crow

Author: Larry Tye Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Different Perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement

Author: Anthony J. Badger Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Frederick Douglass on Abraham Lincoln, 1880 (GLC09091)

Douglass and Lincoln: A Convergence

Author: James Oakes Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Detail from a Harper’s Weekly cartoon by Thomas Nast, February 26, 1870. (LOC)

Education Reform in Antebellum America

Author: Barbara Winslow Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels:

Frederick Douglass: From Slavery to Freedom

Author: Steven Mintz Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Family in Chinatown, San Francisco, CA. (LC-G4085- 0192 <P&P>)

History Times: A Nation of Immigrants

Author: Gilder Lehrman Institute Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
 “Taboas geraes de toda a navegação” by João Teixeira Albernaz, 1630. (LOC Maps)

Iberian Roots of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, 1440–1640

Author: David Wheat Curriculum Subjects: World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Jamestown and the Founding of English America

Author: James Horn Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Geography, Government and Civics, World History Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
John Brown, ca. June 1859, painted photograph. (GLC04447)

John Brown: Villain or Hero?

Author: Steven Mintz Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Literature, Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Lincoln

Author: Allen C. Guelzo Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Fragment of Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech, ca. 1857. (GLC02533)

Lincoln and Abolitionism

Author: Douglas L. Wilson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Abraham Lincoln, by Mathew Brady, February 27, 1860. (GLC05136.01)

Lincoln’s Religion

Author: Richard Carwardine Curriculum Subjects: Religion and Philosophy Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Assembly room for chassis and motors, Detroit, MI, 1929 (LOC, P&P)

Motor City: The Story of Detroit

Author: Thomas J. Sugrue Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Louis Armstrong, 1953 (Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

New Orleans and the History of Jazz

Author: Loren Schoenberg Curriculum Subjects: Art, Geography Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Detail from the Preamble to the US Constitution, 1787. (GLC03585)

Ordinary Americans and the Constitution

Author: Gary B. Nash Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Battery B, 338th Antiaircraft Artillery, ca. 1943. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

Patriotism Crosses the Color Line: African Americans in World War II

Author: Clarence Taylor Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Pop Music and the Spatialization of Race in the 1990s

Author: Mark Anthony Neal Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
The fugitive slave clause in Article 4, Section 2 of the US Constitution. (Gilde

Race and the American Constitution: A Struggle toward National Ideals

Author: James O. Horton Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Reconstruction and the Battle for Woman Suffrage

Author: Ellen DuBois Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

Rethinking Huck

Author: Steven Mintz Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Photograph of American Indians by William Hicks Jackson, 1871. (GLC03095.97)

The Civil War and Reconstruction in the American West

Author: Elliott West Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“The Florida Case before the Electoral Commission,” Cornelia Fassett (US Senate)

The Contentious Election of 1876

Author: Michael F. Holt Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels:

The Discovery of the Americas and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

Author: Ira Berlin Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Emancipation Proclamation (Chicago: Rufus Blanchard, ca. 1863–64) (GLC05508.272)

The Emancipation Proclamation: Bill of Lading or Ticket to Freedom?

Author: Allen C. Guelzo Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Muhammad Ali in Chicago, Illinois, March 1974. (NARA)

The Importance of Muhammad Ali

Author: Thomas Hauser Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“The Life and Age of Woman,” by A. Alden, Barre, MA, ca. 1835. (LC-DIG-pga-0350)

The Legal Status of Women, 1776–1830

Author: Marylynn Salmon Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Slave leg chain, ca. 1840-1850. (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

The Material Culture of Slave Resistance

Author: Douglas R. Egerton Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Lawmakers Who Voted Aye for the 13th Amendment, ca. 1865 (GLC01230)

The Reconstruction Amendments: Official Documents as Social History

Author: Eric Foner Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Order to conscript Alabama slaves for the Confederate Army, 1864 (GLC06158.11)

The Riddles of “Confederate Emancipation”

Author: Bruce Levine Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Girls working in a box factory, Tampa FL, by Lewis Hine, ca. 1912 (NARA 523166)

The Rise of Industrial America, 1877-1900

Author: Richard White Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9
[Dividing the] National [Map]. [Cincinnati], 1860. (LC-DIG-ppmsca-33122)

The Road to War

Author: Chandra M. Manning Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, 1846. (GLC05117)

The Slave Narratives: A Genre and a Source

Author: David W. Blight Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“Entrance of the American Army into New York, Novr. 25th, 1783,” published by Vi

The Social and Intellectual Legacy of the American Revolution

Author: Gary B. Nash Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Sample ballot card for the 1912 Republican National Convention. (GLC01487)

The Spectacles of 1912

Author: Patricia O’Toole Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+

The Underground Railroad and the Coming of War

Author: Matthew Pinsker Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
George Ripley, Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Elizabeth Peabody (LOC)

Transcendentalism and Social Reform

Author: Philip F. Gura Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Eliza Crossing the Ice from a scarf of scenes from Uncle Tom's Cabin. (GLC06894)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Matter of Influence

Author: Hollis Robbins Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“Bostonian’s Paying the Excise-man” (London: Philip Dawe, 1774). (GLC04961.01)

Unruly Americans in the Revolution

Author: Woody Holton Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Athletic Sports, 1887. (Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Div.)

Why Sports History Is American History

Author: Mark Naison Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
The County Election, based on a painting by George C. Bingham, 1854. (Gilder Leh

Winning the Vote: A History of Voting Rights

Author: Steven Mintz Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Sojourner Truth, 1864. (GLC06391.20)

Women and the Home Front: New Civil War Scholarship

Author: Catherine Clinton Curriculum Subjects: Art, Literature Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“The Heroine of Monmouth, June 28, 1778,” Currier & Ives, 1876 (LC-USZC2-2573)

Women and Wagoners: Camp Followers in the American War for Independence

Author: Holly A. Mayer Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Conference of Republican National Committee Women, 1927. (LOC, P&P)

Women in American Politics in the Twentieth Century

Author: Sara Evans Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Justice of the Plains: The Movement Westward, John S. Curry (LC-DIG-highsm-02850

Women of the West

Author: Virginia Scharff Curriculum Subjects: Geography, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Langston Hughes, 1942 (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division)

“I, Too”: Langston Hughes’s Afro-Whitmanian Affirmation

Author: Steven Tracy Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Quote written out by Frederick Douglass (ca. 1880) recalling speech given May 30

“The Merits of This Fearful Conflict”: Douglass on the Causes of the Civil War

Author: David W. Blight Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

“Your Late Lamented Husband”: A Letter from Frederick Douglass to Mary Todd Lincoln

Author: David W. Blight Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+