Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

African American Experiences: Window to the Past

Magazine article Multimedia & Internet@Schools

African American Experiences: Window to the Past

Article excerpt

AFRICAN American experiences during slavery are identified in the National History Standards under United States History, Era 2: Standard 3C, which states, "the student understands African life under slavery." A quick search of state standards reveals that the teaching of this subject generally occurs during grades 5-8. Naturally, the best way to learn about daily life, culture, and history is to draw upon the firsthand accounts of people who lived during that time period. Primary sources are tailor-made for studying this topic.

Let's embark on a journey back in time using eyewitness accounts, diaries, newspaper articles, broadsides, engravings, and songs to help us understand the cultural landscape of the period. It should be noted that much of the material expresses the language, experiences, and viewpoints of the era in which it was written.


African American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920

Selections from this collection illuminate the history of African Americans in Ohio from 1850 to 1920. Through newspaper articles, photographs, and manuscripts the story of slavery and freedom is told in some very compelling ways. Read about McCullum v. the Xenia Board of Education (1887) in the Cleveland Gazette and you will find many similarities to the historic 1954 Brown v. the Board of Education case. Photographs of important African Americans, such as Benjamin Tucker Tanner, dean of Payne Theological Seminary at Wilberforce University in 1901; Granville T. Woods, inventor; and Benjamin W. Arnett, who wrote legislation for the repeal of Ohio's Black Laws, are invaluable artifacts that help to put faces with events. Rounding out the collection are a variety of manuscripts that represent documents of the period. Included are a daily account book of Eustatia plantation in Mississippi, kept by G.R. Clark, overseer; the manumission papers of Sam Barnett; and the papers of Army Colonel Charles Young, who served as military attache to Haiti and Liberia.

African American Sheet Music, 1850-1920

More than a thousand pieces of sheet music are contained in this collection from the archives of Brown University. The collection includes numerous topics such as minstrel songs as well as titles that are associated with Uncle Tom's Cabin, African American soldiers in the Civil War, emancipated slaves, Reconstruction, and the Northern migration of African Americans. Changing racial attitudes in the 19th and early 20th centuries are revealed within the lyrics and cover illustrations. Works from popular composers such as James Bland, Ernest Hogan, and George C. Howard provide insight into the daily life and pastimes of the period. Many African American artists would be lost to history if it were not for the sheet music they penned or performed. Singers such as Cordelia Howard and Aida Overton Walker are among the performers whose images are preserved. In addition, there is a special presentation on the development of African American musical theatre from 1865-1910 that highlights the contributions of Sam Lucas, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and James Weldon Johnson.

The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record

Exceptional black-and-white engravings and water-color paintings gathered from a variety of sources depict daily life of Africans and African Americans from pre-colonial Africa to the time of slavery. Each image is accompanied by a detailed description and source for further research. Find European trading posts and trace the slave routes using old maps. Examine slave ships and the terrible conditions endured on the passage to the New World. Explore dances and festive events that created community in African American society. Catch a glimpse of life on the plantations. Teachers and students are encouraged to use these images for studying the experiences of Africans who were captured, enslaved, and transported to America. …

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