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Breaking Barriers: Reconstruction

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Social Studies +1 Age Levels Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old)

This collection brings together EDSITEment and Smithsonian resources to support the initial research into a project for National History Day 2020, "Breaking Barriers in History."

These resources - including photographs, objects, portraits, lesson plans, and articles - explore the efforts of individuals and groups to overcome racial, economic, and political barriers during the era immediately following the Civil War known as Reconstruction. Resources highlight influential individuals, the intentional and unintentional consequences of actions and policies that resulted in the construction of new barriers for some,  and competing perspectives over the best path forward toward reuniting the United States after the Civil War. The second tile of this collection contains questions to help with the analysis of photograph, document, artwork, portrait, and object resources. 

By no means is this collection comprehensive; instead, it provides a launching point for further research.

This collection was created in collaboration with Tess Porter, Digital Content Producer at the Smithsonian Center for Learning and Digital Access.

Share your National History Day collections and let us know what you think! Write to us on Twitter: @EDSITEment & @SmithsonianLab, #NHD2020. If you publish a collection on your National History Day topic, be sure to enter #NHD2020 in the description!

Tags: civil war, civil rights, slavery, Reconstruction, Freedman’s Bureau, Fisk, Fisk Jubilee Singers, African American, emancipation,  Emanicipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Sojourner Truth, South Carolina, Congress, House of Representatives, Frederick Douglass, Robert Smalls, Hiram R. Revels, Benjamin S. Turner , Robert C. De Large, Josiah T. Walls, Jefferson F. Long, Joseph H. Rainey, R. Brown Elliot, Thomas Mundy Peterson,  Sidney Taliaferro, John Roy Lynch, Octavius Catto, Edmonia Lewis,  Laura Smith Haviland, John W. Menard, Harper’s Weekly, Oliver Howard, William T. Sherman, Howard University, W.E.B. Du Bois, nineteenth century, Washington, D.C., #NHD

Emancipation Proclamation Legacy

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Cabinet card portrait of Thomas Mundy Peterson

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Sojourner Truth

National Portrait Gallery

Octavius Catto

National Portrait Gallery

Laura Smith Haviland

National Portrait Gallery

Robert Smalls

National Portrait Gallery

Thaddeus Stevens

National Portrait Gallery

Ulysses S. Grant

National Portrait Gallery

Frederick Douglass

National Portrait Gallery

Heroes of the Colored Race

National Portrait Gallery

Radical Members of the South Carolina Legislature

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Edmonia Lewis

National Portrait Gallery

Old Arrow Maker

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Carte-de-visite portrait of John W. Menard

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Page 53 from Harper's Weekly with an article about John W. Menard

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Lithographic print of Hiram Revels

National Museum of African American History and Culture

John Roy Lynch

National Portrait Gallery

Pinback button featuring a campaign portrait of Senator William B. Nash

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Confederate Woman’s Cloak

National Museum of American History

Oliver Otis Howard

National Portrait Gallery

Sherman and His Generals

National Portrait Gallery

Andrew Johnson

National Portrait Gallery

Andrew Johnson's Reconstruction

National Portrait Gallery

Andrew Johnson

National Portrait Gallery

The Story of the Jubilee Singers

National Portrait Gallery

Jubilee Singers, Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Handbill for a performance by the Fisk Jubilee Singers

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Afro-American Historical Family Record

National Portrait Gallery

W. E. B. Du Bois

National Portrait Gallery

Booker T. Washington

National Portrait Gallery

A stereographic postcard of Howard University in the late 19th century

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Photograph of the 25th anniversary of the founding of Tuskegee Institute

National Museum of African American History and Culture