About This Lesson
This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file “Shields-Ethridge Farm;” the master’s thesis of Patricia Stallings (“Presenting Mr. Ira’s Masterpiece: Two Centuries of Agricultural Change at the Shields-Ethridge Farm”); Ian Firth’s “Landscape Master Plan for the Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm;” oral interviews with children of sharecroppers, neighbor farm children, and Susan Ethridge Chaisson (grand daughter of Ira Washington Ethridge); Ethridge family photographic albums; and source materials on cotton farming in upland Georgia, sharecropping, the Great Depression, and the Agricultural Adjustment Act. The lesson was written by Martha Lentz Walker, Shields-Ethridge Farm volunteer educator and edited by the TwHP staff. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.
Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson could be used in units on the transformation of agriculture in the U.S.; the era of the Great Depression; and the impact of the New Deal on farms in the southern U.S.
Time period: 1900-1940
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12
Objectives for students
1) To describe the role cotton farming played in the South after the Civil War;
2) To explain the work sharecroppers did throughout the year to produce a cotton crop;
3) To identify some of the factors that brought about the end of the sharecropping system in upland Georgia;
4) To research agricultural change in the local community and to plan an exhibit based on such research.
Materials for students
The materials listed below can either be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-resolution version.
1)Four maps showing the cotton belt in the 1920’s, the location of the Shields-Ethridge Farm, a site plan of the farm, and the sharecroppers villa;
2)Three readings about sharecroppers on the Shields-Ethridge Farm and the efforts of Ira W. Ethridge to reinvent the farm using technology and business principles;
3) Five photographsof the gin, schoolhouse, and sharecroppers at work.
Visiting the site
The Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm is located eight miles from Interstate 85 in northeast Georgia, 50 miles east of Atlanta. The farm is open to the public by appointment. To arrange a visit, contact the Shields-Ethridge Heritage Farm Foundation at www.shieldsethridgefarminc.com.