The After Slavery Project, a transatlantic research collaboration directed from Queen’s University Belfast, has launched an ‘Online Classroom’ – a set of ten online units that explore the aftermath of emancipation in the Carolinas. The teaching units, organized thematically to cover a range of compelling topics, offer students and educators a unique new online resource–accessible, attractive, and attuned to the best of recent scholarship, richly illustrated and with an array of compelling primary source materials from dozens of archival collections.
After Slavery understands the contest that developed after emancipation not simply as an attempt by African Americans to overcome the racial legacies that attended and outlived slavery, but as a profoundly important chapter in the history of America's working people. One aspect of this story that has become clearer in recent years is the variety of experience among former slaves across the South. These variations make it necessary to move away from broad generalizations about ‘the’ African American experience after the Civil War and to try to uncover both the shared elements in black life across the region and the varying capacity of freedpeople to mobilize. This emphasis on the “multiple configurations of freedom” across the post-emancipation South provides the rationale for the project’s focus on North and South Carolina: together these states reflect the productive, demographic, political and geographic diversity of the region as a whole.
Although the site is a work-in-progress, we are convinced that already it fills a glaring gap in the resources available for teaching and studying one of the most tumultuous and critically important chapters in U. S. history. We’re encouraged by the feedback from those who’ve visited afterslavery.com, and over the coming months will be working together with a group of nationally-recognized high school teachers to enhance the site and fine-tune it for classroom use. Later this year, After Slavery will launch a ‘workers’ history project’ in Charleston, involving labor and community activists and their families in exploring that city’s rich history and building their own linked website.
Over the past generation, historians studying the aftermath of slave emancipation in the United States have produced some of the most compelling scholarship in the field of US history, changing forever the way we look at this critical aspect of the American experience. After Slavery aims to convey to a broad audience of teachers, students and citizens a sense of the excitement that this ongoing engagement with the past has delivered. We invite you to visit www.afterslavery.com; to offer us your feedback; and to make use of the material we’ve collected in the Online Classroom in your own teaching.
Brian Kelly, Queen’s University Belfast (Director)
Susan E. O’Donovan, University of Memphis
Bruce E. Baker, Royal Holloway–University of London
Kerry Taylor, The Citadel
What Scholars Are Saying about the After Slavery Project:
“This engaging website combines the most up-to-date scholarship on the aftermath of slavery with a set of provocative and fascinating documents and other materials ideal for classroom use. It will allow a broad online readership to understand where our thinking now stands on this pivotal moment in American history.”
Eric Foner, Dewitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University and a uthor of Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877
“After Slavery makes readily available to professional historians, students, and whoever else is interested a rich collection of both original sources and insightful books and articles dealing with the efforts of working people both black and white to reshape their own lives during and after the defeat of slavery. Its focus on the adjacent but very different worlds of South and North Carolina reveals the variety of efforts and experiences involved in this decisive chapter of the history of American working men and women.”
David Montgomery, Farnam Professor of History Emeritus, Yale University and author of Beyond Equality: Labor and the Radical Republicans, 1862-1872
“This turning point in our history, explored in such detail at afterslavery.com is, sadly, mostly absent from the high school classroom. The stories of transformation and the long and arduous struggle for equality of 4 million former slaves–their struggle for recognition, freedom, and basic human rights–is rarely even touched on. After Slavery helps to fill this void in the American history curriculum by introducing cutting edge scholarship and well-chosen primary sources to bring voice to this untold story.”
Ann Claunch, Director of Curriculum, U. S. National History Day
Professor Emeritus in the History of Education, University of New Mexico
“The After Slavery website explores the multiple meanings of the era of emancipation and conveys the very essence of the often tenuous struggle for freedom in starkly human terms.”
Bernard E. Powers, Jr. Director of African American Studies, College of Charleston and author of Black Charlestonians: A Social History, 1822-1885
“This is an exciting, well-conceived, and very valuable project. It promises to be a great resource for scholars, teachers, and students. The history of the Carolinas can capture the variety of experiences in the period after slavery and also reveal the depth of the challenges faced as African Americans sought to realize the promise of freedom.”
Paul D. Escott, Reynolds Professor of History, Wake Forest University and author of North Carolinians in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction
“An invaluable resource, rich in insight and immensely helpful for those who seek guidance on the topic. Afterslavery.com will be used with profit by students, teachers, and scholars.”
Walter Edgar, Director of the Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina and author of South Carolina: A History
“Given the lamentable shortage of online sources, anyone teaching Reconstruction will welcome this new website concentrating on race and the evolution of labor in the Carolinas, two contiguous states that nicely encapsulate the range of freedpeople’s experience after the Civil War. After Slavery should find a wide audience among college instructors and their students.”
Michael W. Fitzgerald, Professor of History, St. Olaf College and author of Splendid Failure: Postwar Reconstruction in the American South
The After Slavery Project
is funded by the (UK) Arts & Humanities Research Council
and benefits from support of the
Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina and the
W. E. B. Du Bois Institute at Harvard University