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Putting It All Together

In this lesson, students learn about Free Frank McWorter, the brave and resourceful formerly enslaved man who created New Philadelphia, about the town, and about what archeology has learned about its residents. The following activities will help them apply what they have learned.

Activity 1: Role Play
Ask the students to imagine themselves as formerly enslaved individuals living in Illinois before the Civil War with children and grandchildren still enslaved in Kentucky. Like Free Frank McWorter, they have accumulated enough money to purchase one family member out of slavery.

Have each student write a diary entry covering the following questions: How would they decide who to purchase first? How would they plan their trip? What dangers could they expect to encounter on the trip to Kentucky and back to Illinois? What precautions would they take to avoid slave catchers? Ask them to discuss how they would decide whether the trip was worth the risk.

Activity 2: Telling the Story of New Philadelphia
Historic places like New Philadelphia, where there are no standing structures, still can tell stories about the past. Divide the class into three groups and ask them to prepare for a discussion of the best way to use the information that has been collected about New Philadelphia. Have each group research a place that represents one of the following scenarios:

  • An archeological site that has been left largely unchanged, such as Jamestown National Historic Site, Virginia, or Fort Frederica National Monument, Georgia.
  • A place where original historic buildings and structures have been reconstructed, such as Old Fort Harrod State Park in Kentucky, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Washington, or Fort Osage National Historic Site in Sibley, Missouri.
  • A place made up of old buildings that have been moved to the site from their original locations, like Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts, or Heritage Hill Living History Museum in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
  • Information on all of these sites is available on the web.

    Each group should analyze what information is available on New Philadelphia and develop a written recommendation for what they think is the most appropriate scenario to help visitors understand what happened at New Philadelphia historically. The recommendations should address such questions as 1) the amount of information that would be needed to ensure historical and architectural accuracy, 2) the possible loss of original material or data, 3) the cost, and 4) the ability of visitors to understand what they are seeing.

    Ask representatives from each group to report to the whole class and hold a discussion about the relative merits of each scenario. Finally, ask the whole class to vote on how they think the story of New Philadelphia can best be told.

    Activity 3: Discriminatory Legislation in the Local Community
    Many people know about the Jim Crow laws that were used in the 20th century to enforce legal segregation of African Americans in the South. Fewer people know about the Black Codes that many states, both North and South, enacted before the Civil War to restrict the activities of free African Americans. Divide the class into two groups. Ask the first group to investigate whether any Black Codes were enacted in their community and the second to study any local Jim Crow laws. Ask them to find the answers to such questions as: When were these laws enacted? Whom did they apply to? What were their provisions and how did they affect the lives of African Americans? What were they intended to achieve? How successful were they in accomplishing what they were supposed to do? Ask each group to make a presentation of their findings to the class. If there are older members of the community who remember the days of segregation, they might be willing to visit the class and tell them what it was like.

    If no Black Codes or Jim Crow laws ever applied in the community, have the class investigate whether there were other informal restrictions on local African Americans or on members of other minority groups, such as Hispanic- or Asian-Americans or American Indians.

     

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