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James' Plantation Freedmen's School, ca. October 1868

North Carolina prohibited teaching slaves to read and write in 1818 and again in 1830 because such education "has a tendency to excite dissatisfaction in their minds and to produce insurrection and rebellion." Denial of schooling was a tool of oppression designed to protect the institution of slavery. With emancipation, former slaves took steps to secure what had been denied under enslavement. As these black children and adults, posed outside the James' Plantation School soon after the Civil War, likely recognized, education served as a means of empowerment.

Foundational tutorials cover the building blocks of historical inquiry, explaining the differences between primary and secondary sources, the meaning of "historiography," and standards of scholarship.


Primary Sources

Primary sources are eyewitness accounts or contemporary sources created during the period under study. They may be artifacts, handwritten or printed documents, oral interviews, or artwork. They are the direct evidence historians use to answer questions and build arguments, providing firsthand testimony regarding the event or time being researched and giving historians information about the thoughts and behaviors of people in the past.

Finding, Reading, and Interpreting Newspapers as Primary Sources

This tutorial offers a brief overview on using newspaper articles in historical research. The first section provides background information on...

How Can You Use Political Cartoons as Primary Sources?

Political cartoons appear in newspapers across the country everyday, but they cannot be "read" in the same way as editorials...