Social History for Every Classroom

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Social History for Every Classroom

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A Planter Proposes A Slave Regiment in the Continental Army

In this letter, John Laurens asks his father, South Carolina slaveowner Henry Laurens, to give him several slaves in lieu of his inheritance, so that he can arm them to fight in the Continental army.

A Boston Woman Describes Life on the Revolutionary Homefront

Wartime conditions thrust new responsibilities upon American women. With many husbands absent, women assumed heightened responsibilities for managing family finances and operating family farms and shops. The correspondence between Lucy Knox and her [...]

A Colonial Governor Reports to Sir Walter Raleigh on the Natives of Virginia

In 1584, Queen Elizabeth I granted the rights to settle the Roanoke colony to Sir Walter Raleigh. Raleigh sent a fleet to investigate the area called Virginia that year. A group of colonists, led by Sir Richard Grenville, established a settlement in [...]

Item Type: Diary/Letter
Workers Applaud the New Deal's Works Progress Administration

In this letter to President Roosevelt written in 1936, Michigan workers express their gratitude for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) programs and urge the president to continue WPA efforts. The letter describes how working improves their [...]

A Free Black Woman Writes to Imprisoned John Brown

In October 1859, a militant white abolitionist named John Brown led a small band of black and white anti-slavery fighters in a bold assault on the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Their goal was to capture a large store of weapons, [...]

Item Type: Diary/Letter
Black "Exodusters" Explain their Reasons for Leaving the South

Beginning in the mid-1870s, as Northern support for Radical Reconstruction retreated, thousands of African Americans chose to leave the South in the hope of finding equality on the western frontier. Taking their cue from the Book of Exodus in the [...]

Martin Luther King Speaks Out Against Injustice

These two letters from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., composed four years apart, provide insight into the evolution of King's struggle against injustice. In the excerpt from "Letter from Birmingham Jail," written following King's arrest at a peaceful [...]

A Young Visitor Describes the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition

In July 1876, 17-year-old Frank Thomas recorded his experiences on a trip in Philadelphia in these diary entries. Chief among the city's attractions was the Centennial Exhibition. A showcase for American industry, agriculture, art, and architecture [...]

The President of the B&O Railroad Announces Wage Cuts

After the Panic of 1873 plunged the U.S. economy into a severe and lasting depression, corporations such as the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Company found themselves cutting costs, usually by reducing employees' wages, as this letter from the [...]

A Company Town Faces Starvation during the Pullman Strike

George Pullman, owner of the Pullman Palace Car Company, exemplified the paternalistic "welfare capitalist." Believing that labor unrest was caused by poor pay and living conditions, he initially paid his workers high wages and housed them in a [...]

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