Understanding and Teaching American Slavery
Edited by Bethany Jay and Cynthia Lynn Lyerly
Foreword by Ira Berlin
The Harvey Goldberg Series for Understanding and Teaching History
John Day Tully, Matthew Masur, and Brad Austin, Series Editors
“Many instructors find the subject of slavery intimidating. This volume
provides them with the necessary background content, as well as effective
and interesting sources and methods, for engaging students and steering
them away from common misperceptions.”
—Roy E. Finkenbine, author of
Sources of the African-American Past
Perhaps no topic in U.S. history is as emotionally fraught as the nation’s centuries-long
entanglement with slavery. How can teachers get students to understand the racist
underpinnings of that institution—and to acknowledge its legacies in contemporary
America? How can they overcome students’ shame, anger, guilt, or denial?
How can they incorporate into the classroom important primary sources that
may contain obsolete and racist terms, images, and ideas? This book, designed
for college and high school teachers, is a critical resource for understanding and
teaching this challenging topic in all its complexity.
Opening with Ira Berlin’s reflections on ten elements that are essential to
include in any course on this topic, Understanding and Teaching American Slavery
offers practical advice for teaching specific content, utilizing sources, and getting
students to think critically. Contributors address, among other topics, slavery and
the nation’s founders, the diverse experiences of the enslaved, slavery’s role in the
Civil War, and the relationship between slavery and the northern economy. Other
chapters offer ideas for teaching through slave narratives, runaway ads, spirituals,
films, and material culture. Taken together, the essays in the volume help instructors
tackle problems, discover opportunities, and guide students in grappling with
the ugliest truths of America’s past.
Click here to view a pdf of the table of contents.
Bethany Jay is an associate professor
of history at Salem State University.
Cynthia Lynn Lyerly is an
associate professor of history at Boston
“Profoundly useful. . . . Although the variety and ingenuity of teaching methods presented here are exceptional, the contributors are even more effective at calling out the difficult realities educators have with teaching slavery—such as discussing the sensitive issue of race; identifying slavery as a national, not just a Southern, institution; and reconciling its cruelty with the growth of American politics and economics. . . . Accessible and relevant to any classroom at any level.”
“A book that has the potential to change the way that slavery is taught in American schools. It takes a comprehensive look at slavery across American history, offering dozens of concrete suggestions for teaching strategies and learning objects that could be used in all K-12 social studies classrooms.”
“Every teacher should read this book and be reinvigorated in the task of presenting history accurately and thoroughly. Every citizen should read this book and be rededicated to the ideals of this society—equality and fairness.”
“A substantial contribution. Appropriate for instructors at both the college and secondary school levels, this book provides ample background information and practical classroom activities along with advice on pedagogy.”
—Nicholas J. Aieta, recipient of the American Historical Association's Eugene Asher Distinguished Teaching Award
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LC: 2015010259 E
340 pp. 6 x 9
10 b/w illus.