Over the coming months the After Slavery website will be undergoing an exciting transformation. Since its move to a new home at the College of Charleston’s Lowcountry Digital Library more than a year ago, we know that our Online Classroom has been widely used in history classrooms in college and university settings across the US, and in some expected and unexpected places elsewhere around the globe. Over the spring and summer of 2013, we aim to add an important new dimension to the site: high-quality digital and interactive content intended for the high school classroom and created in a unique collaboration between research historians and high school educators, curriculum experts, heritage workers and public historians, archivists and others.
Why now? We believe the round of Civil War-related commemorations inaugurated early last month with the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation presents a unique opportunity for educators at all levels. The best of the scholarship published over the past generation confirms both the central importance of slavery during the war and the role of the slaves themselves in bringing down the old order and trying to shape the new one. Yet in popular memory and–too often–in high school classrooms, the active involvement of slaves and freedpeople in the war and its aftermath is seldom acknowledged, the meaning and deep significance of these world-changing events too frequently lost beneath a mountain of mostly superficial detail. With a focus on the process of emancipation in the Carolinas and a rich collection of source materials at is disposal, the After Slavery Project aims to bridge the gulf between new research, popular memory, and the ways in which young people in high school classrooms learn about this critical period in our past.
This blog will play an important role in the transformation of the site–serving as an online meeting ground for teachers and other history educators spread across the Carolinas and as a sounding board as we work together with you to produce stimulating new classroom materials–lesson plans and ‘out-of-the-box’ online learning teaching packages, traveling exhibits, visual aids, and regional workshops modeled on the very successful one we’ve just held in Charleston.
Along with the opportunities for exciting new collaborations with educators beyond the walls of the university, the Blog will make it possible for After Slavery to offer new resources for professional historians and graduate students interested in slave emancipation in the US. Later this week we will publish the first of many in-depth interviews with historians working on the Civil War- and Reconstruction-era Carolinas and on emancipation-related topics generally. All of which is to say stick around and have your say, and tell your friends and colleagues to stop by. We’re excited about the new plans for the site, and glad to have you along for the journey.