HS – Black World War I Veterans Demand Civil Rights

W. E. B. Dubois in the office of The Crisis

by Christine Gauvreau, Project Coordinator, Connecticut Digital Newspaper Project
Connecticut State Library


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
World War I
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Town
Bridgeport, Statewide
Related Search Terms
African Americans, Veterans, Civil Rights, World War One, The Great War, Equal Rights, W.E.B. Dubois
Social Studies Frameworks
High School – United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

How did World War I impact the struggle for civil rights in Connecticut and America?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • From the primary sources provided, what can you deduce about African Americans’ access to “places of public accommodation” (facilities used by the public—hotels, restaurants, stores, parks, movie theaters, hospitals, etc.) in Connecticut in 1919?
  • What arguments for Connecticut Senate Bill 199 did its supporters present?
  • Based on his 1920 speech in Bridgeport, Connecticut, what did W. E. B. Dubois believe the World War I experience meant for African Americans?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Colored Men Lodge Protest
Detail of the article “Colored Men Lodge Protest,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, March 3, 1919. Click on the image to read the entire article.  – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
image Download an image of the article “Colored Men Lodge Protest,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, March 3, 1919, or click on the image above to link to the article.
page Download a pdf of the entire page including the article “Colored Men Lodge Protest,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, March 3, 1919, or click on the image above to link to the article.
image Download an image of the photostat – “An Act Concerning Equal Rights in Places of Public Accommodation, Amusement, Resort, Refreshment, and Education, and Providing Penalty for the Violation Thereof,” [photostat of page 1. Page 2 missing in bill room files, Connecticut State Library], SB 199-2-1-C (1919).
page Download a pdf of the photostat – “An Act Concerning Equal Rights in Places of Public Accommodation, Amusement, Resort, Refreshment, and Education, and Providing Penalty for the Violation Thereof,” [photostat of page 1. Page 2 missing in bill room files, Connecticut State Library], SB 199-2-1-C (1919).
Plea for Equal Justice
“Plea for Equal Justice,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, March 1, 1920 – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
image Download an image of the article “Plea for Equal Justice,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, March 1, 1920, or click on the image above to link to the article.
page Download a pdf of the entire page including the article “Plea for Equal Justice,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, March 1, 1920, or click on the image above to link to the article.
W. E. B. Dubois in the office of The Crisis
“W. E. B. Dubois in the office of The Crisis.” – New York Public Library Digital Collections
page Download the excerpted article by W. E. B. DuBois, “Returning Soldiers,” The Crisis, May 1919.

In the spring of 1919, black World War I veteran J. L. Morgan, accompanied by Connecticut African American leaders, appealed to the state legislature to grant his community equal access to “places of public accommodation” (facilities used by the public—hotels, restaurants, stores, parks, movie theaters, hospitals, etc.) and education.  The proposed civil rights bill was defeated by both houses in April 1919.

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Have students read the first two sources (“Colored Men Lodge Protest” and page 1 of SB199) individually, with a partner, or as a class.

  • What information can they gather from these sources?
  • What can they deduce/infer about the civil rights of African Americans in Connecticut following World War I?
  • What is the significance of the timing of the proposal of SB199 (immediately following World War I)?
  • What questions do they have after reading the sources?
  • How might students find answers to their questions?

For further inquiry, have students read  W. E. B. DuBois, “Returning Soldiers,” The Crisis, May 1919 and “Plea for Equal Justice,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, March 1, 1920.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
  • The legislative debate over SB199 (and even half of the text of the bill) is lost to us. Students will use what they have learned from the inquiry to complete the cut-off paragraph that begins at the bottom of page 1, in which penalties for denying access are spelled out. – OR – Students will create their own protest signs that might have been brought to the capitol in 1919. Signs should make a clear, catchy, historically accurate argument relevant to the bill.
  • Students will research civil rights issues affecting veterans and members of the military today and use their new understanding of the historical context to enrich a letter to the editor or to legislators.
  • Students will develop strategies or guidelines for identifying biases in newspaper accounts, both historical and contemporary, and then practice using these in future research and assignments.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT

This TeachITCT.org activity is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University.

Grade 8 – The Amistad Incident and the Face of Slavery


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Crime & Punishment, Law, Slavery & Abolition, Social Movements
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Town
Farmington, New Haven, New London, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Slavery, Abolition, Amistad, Revolt
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 8 – United States History

Historical Background
Most people in Connecticut in 1839 probably understood very little about Africa or Africans when the schooner La Amistad was brought into New London Harbor with dozens of Africans—Mende men, boys, and girls—on board. Even among those residents who supported the abolitionist cause, few had ever met a person born in Africa. Locals came to the prison in Westville (New Haven) and paid to gawk at the captives, who were awaiting trial. While in Westville, eleven-year-old Kale—one of the youngest of the Mende captives—studied English. Kale wrote to John Quincy Adams, who was to defend the Amistad Africans before the Supreme Court. Following the trial, the Mende lived with families in Farmington for eight months as they sought funds to return home to Africa.  The Cowles family supported the abolitionist movement and hosted one of the little girls from the Amistad. The letters written by Charlotte Cowles (who was about twenty-one at the time) to her brother Samuel reveal both her preconceived ideas and growing understanding of the Mende living in her community.

D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

What role did the Amistad incident play in the abolitionist movement in the United States?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • What kinds of personal interactions did the Amistad Africans and Connecticut residents have?
  • In what ways did the Amistad incident help people in Connecticut—and in the United States—view enslaved Africans as “real people”?
  • How did these two young writers use language to elicit particular emotions about the Mende and their situation?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

amistad_kale_letter_pg1
Page 1 of a 4 page letter from Kale to John Quincy Adams, January 4, 1841. Written from Westville (New Haven), CT. – Adams Family Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society. Click on the letter above to access all 4 pages.
page Link to a more complete transcription here or download the transcription as a PDF.
Letter from Charlotte to Samuel Cowles, April 8, 1841
Page 1 of a 4 page letter from Charlotte to Samuel Cowles, April 8, 1841. Written from Farmington, CT – Connecticut Historical Society. Click on the letter above to access all 4 pages.
page Download the transcription of this letter as a PDF.
Letter from Charlotte to Samuel Cowles, April 12, 1841
Page 1 of 4 page letter from Charlotte to Samuel Cowles, April 12, 1841. Written from Farmington, CT – Connecticut Historical Society. Click on letter above to access all 4 pages.
page Download the transcription of this letter as a PDF.
D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Divide the class into pairs or groups and assign each group one of the three letters from the toolkit. The original letters are best viewed online. The transcriptions can be downloaded and printed.

Note that because of the length of the Charlotte Cowles letters, certain less-pertinent sections have been “greyed-out.” Students need not focus on those portions in their analysis.

Using SOAPSTone analysis, the Library of Congress Analyzing Primary Sources process, or another method of your choice, have students investigate their assigned source.

  • What can students KNOW from the source? What is the evidence?
  • What can they GUESS or infer? Based on what?
  • What does the source make them WONDER?

Students can then piece together their findings or rotate sources until each group has investigated each source.

Revisit the supporting and compelling question, as well as the questions students have developed and shared. Improve/fine-tune the new questions and discuss what other sources might exist to help answer these questions.

Once students have examined the letters, you may want to share portraits of some of the Mende people mentioned. Links to William H. Townsend’s drawings, John Warner Barber’s silhouettes and biographical sketches, and Nathaniel Jocelyn’s portrait of Cinque/Sengbe Pieh referenced by Charlotte Cowles can be found below in the “Additional Resources” section.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
The Mende stayed in Farmington for months while they and their supporters worked to raise money to help them return to Africa. Writing from the perspective of Charlotte Cowles or one of the Mende children, students will write a letter to the editor of the Charter Oak, an abolitionist newspaper in Connecticut at the time, to convince the newspaper’s readers to contribute money to the cause.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Websites to VISIT

Save

Grade 8 – Accused: 17th-Century Witch Trials

by Christine Jewell
Fairfield Museum and History Center, Fairfield


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Belief, Crime & Punishment
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Gender Roles in Economic, Political, and Social Life
Town
Fairfield, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Witch Trials, 17th Century, Witchcraft, Salem, Witch Hunts, Puritans
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 8 – United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

What factors led to the 17th-century witchcraft trials in Connecticut?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • Were religious or social differences tolerated in the 1600s?
  • Did everyone have equal protection under the law at the time?
  • Why were women particularly targeted as witches?
  • Could something like this happen today?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Detail from Saducismus Triumphatus or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions by Joseph Glanvil. Library of Congress.
This image comes from a very popular book published in London in 1689. It claimed to record “true” supernatural events and probably influenced many colonial thinkers, including Cotton Mather, the author of the 1693 book, The Wonders of the Invisible World: Being an Account of the Tryals of Several Witches Lately Executed in New-England: and of Several Remarkable Curiosities Therein Occurring. In this detail, women gather with the devil in a wooded area.
Illustration from The Kingdom of Darkness by Nathaniel Crouch. London, 1728. World Imprints Collection, Connecticut Historical Society.

 

Although it was published more than 30 years after the last of the Connecticut witch trials, this image illustrates the enduring belief, shared by most New Englanders in the 1600s, that the devil could influence witches to use magic against others.
Elizabeth_Clawson_Mercy_Disbrough
Charges of Catherine Branch against Elizabeth Clawson (Elizabeth Clauson), Mercy Disbrough (Mercy Disbrow) and Goody Miller, 1692. Samuel Wyllys papers, Connecticut State Library.
Transcription from the Connecticut State Library: cathoran branch aged seventeene years or theare abouts/ testifieth and saith that som time this last somer shee saw {good}/ {wif} and felt good wife closon and marcy disbrow afflict/ hur not together but apart by scraching pinching and wringing/ hur body and further saith that good wife {cason} \clason/ was the first/ that did afflict hur and affter wards marcy disbrow and/ after that somtimes one of them and som times \the other/ {crossed out} of them/ and {crossed out} in her affliction: though it was night yet it appearing/ as light as noone day sworn in court septr 19: 1692 attest J Allyn secyr/
Elizabeth_Seagar
Case of Goodwife Seager (Elizabeth Seagar), Testimony Of Robert Sterne, around 1662-1665. Samuel Wyllys papers, Connecticut State Library.
Transcription from the Connecticut State Library: Robt Sterne Testifies as/ followet[h]./ I saw This woman Goodwife Seage/ in the woods w[i]th three more wome[n]/ and wit[h] them {these} I saw two/ black creatures like two Indians/ but taller I saw likewise a Kettle/ there over a fire, I saw the wome[n]/ dance round these black Creatures/ and whiles I looked upon them one/ of the women G Greensmith sai[th]/ lookr who is yonder and then they/ ran away up the hill. I stood still/ and the black things came towards/ mee and then turned to come/ away: He further sait[h] I know the/ F[a]lons by their Habits or clothes/ haveing observed such clothes on/ them not long before:/
Katherine_Harrison_Smith_testimony
Case of Katherin Harrison (Katherine Harrison), Testimony of Rebecka Smith (Rebecca Smith), 1668. Samuel Wyllys papers, Connecticut State Library.
Transcription from the Connecticut State Library (excerpted): Rebeckka Smith aged about 75 theares testefieth as followes/ that … Goodwife Gilbert the wife of \Jonathan Gilbert/ … had/ a black Capp which shee had lent to Katherin Harrison, and Katherin/ Harrison desired {desired} to have the saide capp, but Gooddy Gilbert/ refused to sell it to Katherin, after Goodwife Gilbert wore the saide/ capp and when shee had the capp on her head her shoulders and head was/ much afflicted, after the capp beinge pulled of, Gooddy Gilbert saide/ she was well, again \a certain time/ after Gooddy Gilbert wore, or put on the saide/ Capp: then shee was afflicted as before; the saide capp beinge/ againe pulled of Gooddy Gilbert againe saide shee was well, thus/ beinge afflicted severall times, it was suspected to be by witchcraft/ after the saide Rebecca Smith, herd say the capp was burned./
Katherine_Harrison_testimony
Case of Katherin Harrison (Katherine Harrison), testimony of John Welles. Samuel Wyllys papers, Connecticut State Library.
Transcription from the Connecticut State Library: when my father lived in the house where Joseph/ wright liveth some evenings our cows were late/ before they came hom and my mother sent me/ to see if I could mete them I went once or twice/ but the second time I was sent I went about half/ way crosse the street and could goe no further/ my legs were bound to my thinking with a nap/ kin but could se nothing I looked foward {for}/ {ward} the cattle that were in the street by good/ man nots shop and I saw good wif harrison rise/ up from a cow that was non of her owne with/ a pail in her hand and made hast home and/ when she was over her own stile I was loosed/ June 29:1668/ This was about 7 or 8 years ago John welles/ / This was owned and acknowledged/ by John wells before me Samll welles/
page Because the language in the court documents can be difficult for students to read (little punctuation, inconsistent or archaic spelling, etc.), a PDF with slightly adapted transcriptions is provided HERE.
D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

For background information about the witchcraft trials in Connecticut, download the Fairfield Museum’s “Accused: Fairfield’s Witchcraft Trials” Educator Guide (www.fairfieldhistory.org/education/teacher-resources/) prior to teaching the lesson.

Begin the activity by having students examine one or both of the historic images as a class, in small groups, or individually.

  • Describe what is going on in the image(s). What is the setting? Who are the figures? What are the activities?

Break students into smaller groups, each with one of the court documents (including the transcription).

  • What details can be gleaned from each document?
  • Who is being accused? What can you learn about this person from the text?
  • Who is doing the accusing? What can you learn about this person from the text?
  • What are these people being accused of?
  • What can you infer from the testimony about why this person has been accused?
  • What beliefs or values held by the accused or the accuser are suggested by the testimonies?

Have each group share their discoveries and note similarities and differences.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Have students supplement their conclusions from the inquiry activity with information from additional resources (see below for some suggestions) to help them develop answers to the compelling and supporting questions posed at the beginning. Conclude with a discussion or writing activity based on the questions: Could something like this happen today? Does it?

For a further connection, investigate with students accusations of witchcraft in contemporary Africa and Asia.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ

Grade 8 – Venture Smith: From Slavery to Connecticut Businessman

by Khalil Quotap
Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Slavery & Abolition
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Town
East Haddam, Stonington, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Enslaved, Primary Sources, Archaeology, Local History
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 8 – United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

How can a former slave prosper in a colony where slavery is legal?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How can objects be used to support written accounts of historical events?
  • What kind of life could a former slave expect to have in the Connecticut colony in the late 1700s?
  • What is a primary source? Secondary? And how can they be used in research?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Boat caulking iron
Boat caulking iron
Boat caulking iron
Boat caulking iron

Boat Caulking Iron

Identified by Dr. William Peterson, senior curator, and Quentin Snediker, director of the shipyard, at Mystic Seaport. Both were pleased to confirm that site structures and artifacts demonstrate Venture Smith’s mariner activities.

Piece of an early glass bottle
Piece of an early glass bottle
Shards of 19th century ceramics
Shards of 19th century ceramics
Incised bone handle
Incised bone handle
Domestic Artifacts: These objects have been excavated in and around structures at the Smith Homestead dig site. These materials include an incised bone knife handle, early bottle glass and a variety of 18th and early 19th century ceramics.

 

Click to open PDF

Timeline of Venture Smith’s life created for a presentation by Lucianne Lavin, Ph.D.

 

 

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Students will read a brief summary of Venture Smith’s history and examine the artifact images found on the Smith Homestead dig site. They will use the information from the artifact to support their findings.

  • What do the artifacts tell about the person who lived there?
  • How can you be sure the artifacts are real?
  • Based on what the artifacts found, how do you think the family lived during the late 1700s?
  • How does this change the way you think of how minorities were treated in the past?
  • What does this tell you about the general population in Connecticut and their view of minorities during the late 1700s?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
  • Have students share their specific evidence in response to the compelling and supporting questions.
  • Inquiry projects
    • What types of discrimination or challenges would former slaves face?
    • What employment or occupations might a former slave expect to find?
    • How was life at sea an option for former slaves?
  • Compare the experiences of immigrants today with former slaves in the colonies.
  • Have students bring an artifact from home and ask: “What would historians think about life now based on the artifacts we would leave behind?”
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ

Grade 8 – Abolition and African Americans in Connecticut

Nancy Toney

by ConnecticutHistory.org


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Slavery & Abolition
Civil War
Theme
The Struggle for Freedom, Equality, and Social Justice
Town
Statewide
Related Search Terms
Reconstruction
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 8 – United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

In what way did the abolition of slavery indicate progress, or decline, for the lives of African Americans?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • What were the causes and effects of the abolition of slavery?
  • What role did Connecticut play in the abolitionist movement?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Attributed to Osbert Burr Loomis, Nancy Toney, oil on canvas, ca. 1862 - Photograph from the collection of the Loomis Chaffee School Archives, Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut This painting of Nancy Toney is attributed to Osbert Burr Loomis, oil on canvas, ca. 1862 – Photograph from the collection of the Loomis Chaffee School Archives, Loomis Chaffee School, Windsor, Connecticut
Download image as a pdf
Download image as a jpeg
Map from the Underground Railroad in Connecticut by Horatio Strother, 1962 Map of the Underground Railroad routes in Connecticut from the book Underground Railroad in Connecticut by Horatio Strother, 1962
Download image as a pdf
Download image as a jpeg
way2 Article describing Frederick Douglass’s speech to 29th and 30th Colored Volunteers, page 9, The Connecticut War Record, New Haven, February 1864 – Connecticut State Library, Newspapers of Connecticut
Download image as a pdf
Download image as a jpeg
D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Divide students into small groups of three or four people. Choose one student to be the notetaker and write down their group’s thoughts and observations.

Using the three primary sources, students will answer the following questions:

  1. What role did Connecticut play in the abolitionist movement?
  2. What can you determine about slavery in Connecticut by examining the following sources?
  3. What is the author communicating about slavery in Connecticut?

Discuss observations with groups and with the class.

Have the students find commonalities and differences.

Share ideas about what the sources reveal.

Share answers/perspectives with the class.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Students can address their responses to the compelling question(s) using a variety of different formats, including (but not limited to): An essay, a poster, or presentation.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Websites to VISIT