Learning on the Web: New Opportunities, Old Habits

The internet offers tremendous opportunities for taking the exciting advances in scholarship on the aftermath of slavery in the United States and sharing them with a broad constituency, well beyond the walls of the university or specialist archives. But learning and teaching on the web can also be problematic. One problem is that many sites are unsuitable for classroom use, offering students source materials whose original provenance is not properly identified, or essays that rely on little or no historical evidence. Another is that many sites are built without any sense of the possibilities for doing something different with the web- something that books and articles, on their own, cannot deliver. Our long-term aim in launching the After Slavery site is to build an interactive educational resource-one that becomes an online meeting place for anyone interested in pursuing this remarkable chapter in our past. As you return to the site from month to month, you will see changes in the kinds of resources available here and growing emphasis on interactive learning.

Each unit that we have assembled for the Online Classroom contains a set of primary sources-excerpts from diaries and letters, government reports, memoirs, handbills, court transcripts, census materials, newspaper accounts-that help to illustrate different aspects of a particular problem. In some places we have accompanied a document with a suitable image and, where possible, we have posted a .pdf copy of the original document, in most cases handwritten. We have worked hard to offer in each unit a range of sources that will help you to understand the complexity and breadth of each problem, but which will also convey a sense of the urgency and excitement which attached to these issues in a period marked by serious tensions over the kind of society taking shape after slavery.

We Need Your Help

We want to offer our community of users the best tools for engaging with some of the most compelling and salient problems in American history. But in order to do that successfully, we need your help. Work your way around the site; try it out in the classroom and see if you find the resources useful in preparing research projects; use it as a supplement to specialized courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction and on lower-level surveys in American history; use it in your church, your club or reading group, your trade union or community to explore the meaning and importance of emancipation in your local or state history. And then tell us how it worked!

We need your feedback on what works and what doesn't; on whether the text is clear and accessible, and whether our online classroom units work together to provide a broad understanding of ground-level developments in the post-emancipation Carolinas. What have you learned in exploring the site? What other topics should we explore here? How might we improve the look, the feel of the site? If you have any comments at all that you'd like to make, click the Feedback tab in the sidebar to the left and leave a note on our blog; we'll respond as soon a possible.

A Word of Thanks

We have tried to select from literally hundreds of thousands of available documents and images the richest, most compelling materials we have come across in our research. The vast majority of these come from either North or South Carolina, but occasionally we have included documents from elsewhere in the South. In carrying out the work required we have been helped by many friends and colleagues, by archivists and institutions whose support has been critical. We want to especially acknowledge the (UK) Arts & Humanities Research Council, whose generous support makes After Slavery possible, and both the W. E. B. Bu Bois Institute at Harvard University and the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina at Columbia. We are grateful also to the many archives which have granted us permission to use documents and images on the site: the American Antiquarian Society; the Caroliniana Library at the University of South Carolina; the Library of Congress, the Miami University Archives; the North Carolina State Archives and the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Learn What Scholars are Saying

Click here to see what experts in the field have to say about the After Slavery Project Website

In the meantime welcome from the After Slavery project team.

Brian Kelly, Queen's University Belfast
Bruce E. Baker, University of London-Royal Holloway
Susan Eva O'Donovan, University of Memphis
John W. White, College of Charleston