Lesson Plan: Using an Omeka Exhibit and Online Primary Historical Documetns in Order to Enhance Learning Objectives

Lesson Plan: Using an Omeka Exhibit and Online Primary Historical Documents in Order to Enhance Learning Objectives

Creator: Christina Lawrence

High School Level American/Louisiana History:
Racial Segregation in New Orleans: From Plessy to Bush to desegregation

Learning Objectives:

  • Teach students about segregation and racial inequalities preceding the Civil Rights movement.
  • Encourage students to think about how broad national issues played out in New Orleans.
  • Expose students to legal reasoning and constructing arguments.
  • Facilitate critical engagement with historical materials.
  • Introduce students to historical primary sources.


  • As a homework assignment, have students read about the Plessy decision for segregation and the Brown v. The Board of Education case which integrated schools. Use online government legal websites.
  • Begin class with a discussion of which arguments and reasoning they found most compelling.
  • Introduce the class to the Omeka exhibit and break them into 3 groups.
  • Assign each group a section of the exhibit and ask them to formulate a summary of the information contained in the exhibition’s excerpts and relate them to the issues brought up in the Plessy/Brown trials.
    • Same issues? Different issues? Any issues unique to New Orleans? Which issues seemed the most pressing? Do any of these issues seem familiar?
  • Have each group present their summary and pull the class back together.
  • Show “The Problem We All Live With” by Norman Rockwell and facilitate a discussion on why and how segregation and integration impacted the New Orleans community, national discourse and international relations.

Further Reading/Resources:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Ruby Bridges and Integration in New Orleanshttp://www.rubybridges.com/



This lesson plan can serve as a jumping off point for a variety of subjects. Once students are familiarized with the changing nature of education, historically important legal trials, online historical documents and critically engaging course material, many other lessons can be planned.

Some ideas:

  • Introduce students to other famous American legal cases such as the Scopes trial, Haymarket Riot, Triangle Shirtwaist, Dred Scott, etc.
  • Have students familiarize themselves with the distinction between primary and secondary sources. Have them compile lists of online sources for primary historical documents, and create brief summaries of these resources. Perhaps break them into groups and have them research different topics.
  • Encourage students to read the education section of the local newspaper, or look up contemporary school board minutes, and discuss the issues currently being debated.
  • Do an oral history project with your class. Have students team up and speak with older relatives or community members about their experiences in school. If possible, record these interviews. Have these students present on their interviewee and facilitate a discuss comparing various educational experiences.

Introduce Civil Rights era literature, speeches and artwork. Have them discuss how these works reference and understand the political atmosphere.

Teacher Resources
Lesson Plan: Using an Omeka Exhibit and Online Primary Historical Documetns in Order to Enhance Learning Objectives