Lesson Plan: Online Resources and Primary Document Analysis

Lesson Plan: Online Resources and Primary Document Analysis

Creator: Christina Lawrence

Undergraduate Introduction to American History: 
Topic: The Jim Crow South and Desegregation

Learning Objectives:

  • Teach students about segregation and racial inequalities preceding the Civil Rights movement.
  • Introduce students to online sources for historical research.
  • Teach students how to differentiate between primary and secondary sources.
  • Teach students how to analyze primary documents.



  • Open up discussion by asking students about any initial impressions about the homework assignment and gauge their level of familiarity with recognizing and analyzing primary documents.
  • Hand out a Primary Document Analysis Worksheet such as this one: http://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/worksheets/document.html
  • Introduce the students to this Omeka site and discuss the way that these documents were analyzed. Point out the parts of the exhibit which are primary and secondary.
  • Depending on the class’s familiarity with primary document analysis, have students either work independently or in groups to analyze one of their primary documents from the homework.
  • Have students present their analyses and facilitate a discussion about the Jim Crow South and the various ways in which it was experienced, fought and remembered.

Further Reading/Resources:

  • OPSB History: DeVore, Donald E. and Joseph Logsdon. Crescent City Schools: Public Education in New Orleans 1841 – 1991. Lafayette, Louisiana: Center for Louisiana Studies, 2011.
  • Education and Labor: Parr, Leslie Gale. A Will of Her Own: Sarah Towles Reed and the Pursuit of Democracy in Southern Public Education. Athens, Georgia: University of Georgia Press, 2010.
  • Brown v. The Board of Education: Patterson, James T. Brown v. Board of Education: A Civil Rights Milestone and Its Troubled Legacy. Oxford University Press; New York, 2001.
  • Ruby Bridges and Integration in New Orleanshttp://www.rubybridges.com/
  • Plessy v. Ferguson: Thomas, Brook. Plessy v. Ferguson: A Brief History with Documents. Boston: Bedford, 1997.