Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864

The Draft Riot Mystery

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. Students are invited to solve a mystery, using historical clues, about the real story of the Draft Riots.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Social Class, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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The Election of 1860 Featured Image

The Election of 1860 Role Play

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. A role play based on the election of 1860 allows students to explore the political debates of the time and the real reasons for the Civil War.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Slavery and Resistance, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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collage of six Black abolitionists in the United States.

‘If There Is No Struggle…’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 16 pages. Rethinking Schools. In this role play, students become members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, facing many of the real challenges to ending slavery.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Poetry of Defiance: How the Enslaved Resisted

Teaching Activity. By Adam Sanchez. Through a mixer activity, students are introduced to the various ways that enslaved people resisted the brutal exploitation of slavery. The lesson culminates in a collective class poem highlighting the defiance of the enslaved.
Time Periods: Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Language Arts, Slavery and Resistance
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Reading Between the Lines: An Art Contest Helps Students Imagine the Lives of Runaway Slaves (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Reading Between the Lines: An Art Contest Helps Students Imagine the Lives of Runaway Slaves

Teaching Activity. By Thom Thacker and Michael A. Lord. 4 pages. Rethinking Schools. An art contest is used as the basis from which students can examine primary historical documents (advertisements for runaway slaves) to gain a deeper understanding of the institution of slavery in the North.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Reclaiming Hidden History: Students Create a Slavery Walking Tour in Manhattan (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History

Reclaiming Hidden History: Students Create a Slavery Walking Tour in Manhattan

Teaching Activity. By Alan J. Singer. Rethinking Schools. How a teacher and his students organized a tour of the hidden history of slavery in New York.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 18th Century, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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The War to Free the Slaves (Material) | Zinn Education Project

A War to Free the Slaves?

Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. Students examine excerpts from Lincoln’s first inaugural address, the rarely mentioned original Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution that Lincoln promised to support, and the Emancipation Proclamation to explore some of the myths about the Civil War.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Reconstruction Mixer Collage (Updated) | Zinn Education Project

When the Impossible Suddenly Became Possible: A Reconstruction Mixer

Teaching Activity. By Adam Sanchez and Nqobile Mthethwa. 25 pages. A mixer role play that explores the connections between different social movements during Reconstruction.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Civil War and Class Conflict

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. 16 pages. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 10 of Voices of a People's History of the United States" on "The Other Civil War—the class conflict fought by the poor in the north and south.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: Labor, Social Class
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California map

The Expansion of Empire

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. 15 pages. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 12 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on internal dissent over American expansionist policies.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899
Themes: Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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The First Slaves

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 2 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on early American slavery, resistance, and rebellion.
Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Indian Removal

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. 18 pages. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 7 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on the American policy of "Manifest Destiny" and Native American resistance to their own displacement.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899
Themes: Imperialism, Native American, Racism & Racial Identity
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Slavery and Defiance

Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. Questions and teaching ideas for Chapter 9 of Voices of a People's History of the United States on black and white resistance to slavery before the Civil War.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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Teaching a Peoples History of Abolition and the Civil War (Book Cover) | Zinn Education Project

Teaching a People’s History of Abolition and the Civil War

Teaching Guide. Edited by Adam Sanchez. 181 pages. 2019. Rethinking Schools. Students will discover the real abolition story, one about some of the most significant grassroots social movements in U.S. history.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: African American, Reconstruction, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance
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The First Decoration Day

Article. By David W. Blight. 2011. The people's history of Memorial Day in Charleston, South Carolina during Reconstruction.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: Reconstruction, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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Who Freed the Slaves (Material) | Zinn Education Project

Timeline on the Civil War and Abolition

Student Handout. By Bill Bigelow. This timeline can be used as a resource for lessons on the Civil War, President Lincoln, the 54th Regiment, and the end of slavery.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864
Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery and Resistance, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements
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Why I’m Rooting for Tommy Lee Jones

Article. By William Katz. 2013. An opportunity to highlight Congressman Thaddeus Stevens' fight for equality.
Time Periods: 19th Century, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876
Themes: Slavery and Resistance
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