Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864

Resource Type:

Reading Level:

    • The Draft Riot Mystery

    • Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 9 pages.
      Students are invited to solve a mystery, using historical clues, about the real story of the Draft Riots.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free) | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Immigration, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery, Social Class, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: High School
    • The Election of 1860 Role Play (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History
    • The Election of 1860 Role Play

    • Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 12 pages.
      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.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free) | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Slavery, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: High School
    • ‘If There Is No Struggle...’: Teaching a People’s History of the Abolition Movement

    • Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 16 pages.
      In this role play, students become members of the American Anti-Slavery Society, facing many of the real challenges to ending slavery.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free) | Time Periods: Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Laws & Citizen Rights, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery | Reading Levels: Adult, Grades 6-8, High School
    • 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.
      An art contest is used as the basis from which students can examine primary historical documents (advertisements for runaway slaves) to gain a deeper understanding of the institution of slavery in the North.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free) | Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 18th Century, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • 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. 7 pages.
      How a teacher and his students organized a tour of the hidden history of slavery in New York.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free) | Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 18th Century, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery | Reading Levels: High School
    • A War to Free the Slaves? (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History
    • A War to Free the Slaves?

    • Teaching Activity. By Bill Bigelow. 7 pages.
      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.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free) | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery | Reading Levels: High School
    • Who Freed the Slaves? (Teaching Activity) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History
    • Who Freed the Slaves?

    • Student Handout. By Bill Bigelow. 3 pages.
      This timeline can be used as a resource for lessons on the Civil War, President Lincoln, the 54th Regiment, and the end of slavery.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free) | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • 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.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Guides | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: Labor, Social Class | Reading Levels: High School
    • 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.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Guides | Time Periods: Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899, 19th Century | Themes: Imperialism, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: High School
    • The First Slaves

    • Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. 15 pages.
      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.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Guides | Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery | Reading Levels: High School
    • 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.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Guides | Time Periods: Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899, 19th Century | Themes: Imperialism, Native American, Racism & Racial Identity | Reading Levels: High School
    • Slavery and Defiance

    • Teaching Activity. By Gayle Olson-Raymer. 17 pages.
      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.

    • Resource Types: Teaching Guides | Time Periods: Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery | Reading Levels: High School
    • The First Decoration Day

    • Article. By David W. Blight. 2011.
      The people’s history of Memorial Day.

    • Resource Types: Articles | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: Adult, High School
    • Collage of anti-slavery efforts | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History
    • Rethinkin’ Lincoln on the 150th Birthday of the Emancipation Proclamation

    • Article. By Bill Bigelow. 2012. If We Knew Our History Series.
      Students need to rethink the Great Emancipator myth by examining Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address, the Emancipation Proclamation, his timid approach to ending slavery, and, by contrast, the heroism of the abolitionists and the enslaved people themselves.

    • Resource Types: Articles | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Democracy & Citizenship, Slavery |
    • Why I'm Rooting for Tommy Lee Jones

    • Article. By William Katz. 2013.
      Why Tommy Lee Jones winning an Oscar for his performance as Congressman Thaddeus Stevens in Lincoln can highlight Stevens’ fight for equality.

    • Resource Types: Articles | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876, 19th Century | Themes: Slavery | Reading Levels: Adult, High School
    • The Black Americans: A History in Their Own Words, 1619-1983

    • Book – Non-fiction. Edited by Milton Meltzer. 1987. 320 pages.
      Engaging first person stories and primary documents.

    • Resource Types: Books: Non-Fiction | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876, All US History | Themes: African American, Labor | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • A People's History of the Civil War: Struggles for the Meaning of Freedom

    • Books – Non-fiction. By David Williams. 2006. 594 pages.
      An account of the American Civil War though the eyes of ordinary people.

    • Resource Types: Books: Non-Fiction | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: Racism & Racial Identity, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: Adult
    • A People's History of the United States (Book) | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History
    • A People's History of the United States: 1492 - Present

    • Books – Non-fiction. By Howard Zinn. 2005, with a new introduction by Anthony Arnove in 2015. 784 pages.
      Howard Zinn’s groundbreaking work on U.S. history. This book details lives and facts rarely included in textbooks—an indispensable teacher and student resource.

    • Resource Types: Books: Non-Fiction | Time Periods: Colonization: 1492 - 1764, Revolution & Constitution: 1765 - 1799, Early 19th Century: 1800 - 1849, Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, Reconstruction Period: 1865 - 1876, Industrial Revolution: 1877 - 1899, Turn of the Century: 1900 - 1909, World War I: 1910 - 1919, Prosperity, Depression, & World War II: 1920 - 1944, Cold War: 1945 - 1960, People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, Post-Civil Rights Era: 1975 - 2000, 2001 - Present, All US History | Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Democracy & Citizenship, Economics, Education, Immigration, Imperialism, Labor, Laws & Citizen Rights, Native American, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity, Slavery, Social Class, US Foreign Policy, Wars & Related Anti-War Movements, Women's History | Reading Levels: Adult, High School
    • Bull Run

    • Book – Fiction. By Paul Fleischman. 1993. 128 pages.
      A historical novel for middle school and above about the Civil War Battle of Bull Run drama told in 16 voices.

    • Resource Types: Books: Fiction | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: Wars & Related Anti-War Movements | Reading Levels: Grades 6-8, High School
    • Dayshaun’s Gift

    • Book – Fiction. By Zetta Elliott. 2015. 88 pages.
      Time travelling historical fiction for upper elementary school students on the New York City Draft Riots.

    • Resource Types: Books: Fiction | Time Periods: Civil War Era: 1850 - 1864, 19th Century | Themes: African American, Racism & Racial Identity | Reading Levels: Grades 3-5
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