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Investigating the Life of Enslaved People Through Artifacts

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Social Studies +1 Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old), Adults

In this collection, you will examine artifacts, paintings and text that gives you a window into the life of enslaved people of the US during 1700s and 1800s. I created this content as a way for my 4th grade students to dig deeper in their understanding of enslaved people beyond what our textbook provides. The students are asked to take meaningful analysis of the artifacts and to consider what further inquiries they have. 

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While you navigate through this collection, consider:

See Think Wonder Thinking Routine

  • What do you see?
  • What do you think?
  • What do you wonder?

Main, Side, Hidden

  • What is the main story?
  • What is the side story?
  • What is the hidden story?

Unveiling Stories Thinking Routine

  • What is the main story?
  • What is the human story?
  • What is the world (issues) story?
  • What is the new story?
  • What is the untold story?

Slave Badge

National Museum of American History

Slave shackles

National Museum of American History

The Slave Sale

National Museum of American History

Slave Cabin Interior, Maryland

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Slave whip owned by British abolitionist Charles James Fox

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Broadside for sale of enslaved woman and children from estate of Joseph McCoy

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Dress made by an unidentified enslaved woman or women

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Mortar and pestle for pounding grain

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Servants at a Pump

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Letter to John Copeland from his wife Ann

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Abraham

National Portrait Gallery

Albumen print of enslaved women and their children near Alexandria, Virginia

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Broadside for an auction of enslaved persons at the Charleston courthouse

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Learning is Wealth: Wilson, Charley, Rebecca & Rosa, Slaves from New Orleans

National Museum of African American History and Culture

See/Think/Wonder: Project Zero Visible Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Unveiling Stories: Project Zero Global Thinking Routine

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access

Lesson Plan

Ellen Rogers