How do you begin to piece together stories of your community’s past that might help in making sense of the here and now? What are the tools that are available in constructing a clearer, more inclusive version of your town’s past? How can students form a version of local history that might reflect a relationship to the Transatlantic Slave Trade or its aftermath?
To help you find ideas for a history search in your own hometown, consider the resources that may be readily available:
Start with Your Own Curiosity
Books on local history
Uncovering Local History
Imagine for a moment this scene: You and your students have just received a letter from local town leaders asking for your help in the planning of a town-wide celebration honoring the heritages of all the people who contributed to the founding and expansion of the community. The town governing body needs your help in gathering information about early settlers, especially citizens of African descent: where they came from; their names; their identities, assumed identities or imposed identities (if any); what groups they belonged to within the community; markers, buildings or locations within town that acknowledge their existence and contributions; and the ways in which their lives reflected freedom.
How would you begin to answer the town’s request?
Although this particular situation is imaginary, the process for generating answers about town forbears is very real. The following is a collection of activity proposals designed to stimulate detailed thinking about the origins of your community.