War for Freedom

War for Freedom: African American Experiences in the Era of the Civil War - a curriculum developed by the American History Workshop for use by the National Park Service.

In the four years of the American Civil War, the United States began to reforge itself after the the 250-year-long-tragedy of enslavement. On the battlefields of that war four million African-Americans won their freedom. In the buildings, artifacts, documents, and stories they contain, this story is told.

War for Freedom invites teachers and students in to the day-to-day lives and thoughts of black Americans moving from enslavement to emancipation. Each War for Freedom unit guides students to do research with original historic documents, to re-create moments of drama and personal choice, and to synthesize their learning and imagination in creative collaborative projects.

Harpers Ferry's curriculum unit explores what life may have been like for free African Americans living in Harpers Ferry after John Brown's raid. Students are presented with historical background information and primary resources. Using this information students create a character for themselves and step into history. They have the opportunity to reflect upon their feelings of John Brown's raid through the eyes of their character.


Curriculum Materials (downloadable pdfs):


Teacher and Student Feedback

We would appreciate any comments you have about this curriculum. It is still a work in progress and we are interested in teachers' and students' feedback. The following are things we would like to know:

  • What did you like about this activity?
  • What would make this better?
  • Is there other information (documents, resources, etc.) that would have been useful?
  • Would you prefer this curriculum to be only downloadable or interactive within the website?

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Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
PO Box 65

Harpers Ferry, WV 25425


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