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How to Use the Activities


Inquiry Question

Historical Context




Table of

Putting It All Together

"Touring" Chicago's Black Metropolis in the late 1920s with the aid of these sources puts students in a position to advance some general conclusions about the stories of this community. Using some reflective thought, they also can spell out the factors that turn seemingly ordinary places into special historic places. Students can then begin to assess buildings in their own communities from a historical perspective.

Activity 1: The Time Perspective
A variety of dates, periods, and major events appear in the lesson. One way to put them together into a meaningful sequence is to use a time line. Have students construct a time line with a scale of dates down the center of the page. Ask them to select 10 significant events from the information in this lesson and write them to the left of the dates. Ask students to use the right-hand side of the time line to label historical periods, using their American history textbooks for reference. (For example, a student might use the following periods: Reconstruction, 1865-1877; Industrial Growth/Gilded Age, 1873-1900, Imperial America, 1890-1904; Progressive Era, 1900-1920; World War I, 1914-1919; etc.)

After students have completed their time lines, have them share their periodization schemes (time periods organized by themes) with each other. How similar or different are they from each other? How well do students think the story of Chicago's Black Metropolis fits into the themes that define these periods? Where do they overlap? How do they differ? Point out to students that a variety of periodization schemes and terms for identifying themes can be used to define the same series of events. These might be determined by someone's life story, a community's development, national events, or world affairs. With this in mind, ask students to create a periodization scheme specifically for the historical evolution of the Black Metropolis.

Activity 2: Creating a Historic Place
For a location to be considered historic it must be invested with meaning by connecting it to the larger story we call history. Have the class discuss the process by which we "transform" structures into historic places. The time lines created in Activity 1 might give substance to this discussion by furnishing concrete examples. Map 3 and paragraphs 10-12 of the reading provide useful information as well. Encourage the students to use the information generated by the discussion to draw a flowchart that shows the process by which people invest places with historical meaning.

One of many ways to describe this process is indicated on the chart below. Have the class compare their flowchart with this one, perhaps incorporating an idea or two. Remember that the resulting flowchart is probably not nearly as valuable as the thought process that was used to create it. Considering several different charts will enrich the conversation.


Seeing a Place


Recalling Events

Constructing a Narrative


Discovering Changes over Time

Explaining Change


Connecting with History and My Life
Making Connections


Activity 3: Nominating a Local Historic Place
The process outlined on the chart is the same used to identify and evaluate historic places in students' own communities. Ask each student to select a site, building, monument, or structure in their community that could be nominated for a local, state, or national register of historic places. Have them complete the "action" steps in the chart for that place and use the information to create a narrative similar to the reading. This information will be similar to the documentation needed for an actual nomination.

Next discuss where appropriate maps might be located to place the site into a geographical as well as a historical context. Maps similar to United States Geological Survey quadrangles used for Map 2 are available for almost every place in the nation and for a variety of dates from the late 19th century to the present. A librarian can help students locate them. Extend the discussion to explore where other appropriate source documents for one particular site might be located.

This activity could be extended to a large, cooperative project for a nomination to have the place listed in a local, state, or national register, or for a history fair, term paper, classroom display, or videotape. If so, explain the importance of consulting a history textbook or other reference materials to establish the pertinent historical themes, of organizing the story chronologically by using a time line, and of visiting the location in person, keeping notes of one's observations, ideas, and feelings.




Comments or Questions

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