Field Trips

Slavery & Freedom in Salem - Elementary

Grade Level:
Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
Social Studies
Common Core Standards:
4.SL.1, 4.SL.4, 5.SL.1, 5.SL.4
State Standards:
Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Science (Grade 4) 4.T4, 4T.4a, 4.RI.1, 4.SL.1, (Grade 5) 5.T1, 5.RI.1, 5.RI.3, 5.SL.1

Join us in a program to engage students in the history of slavery using place and primary source documents.

Park rangers will guide students through discussions and activities centered on the history of slavery and gradual emancipation in Massachusetts during the years 1740-1810. This program takes place primarily outdoors exploring the historic wharves, buildings, and waterfront that make up Salem Maritime.

Park rangers can facilitate this program with a greater focus on 1) slavery’s central role in the local maritime economy or 2) the lived experiences of enslaved and free people in Salem. A program that gives equal time to both requires additional time and a short break. Please allow up to 2.5 hours.


Grade levels: 4th - 5th grades
Maximum group size: 25 students
Teachers & chaperones: 1 adult required per 10 students
Duration: 1.5 hours
Cost: free of charge 


Depending on program focus, students will be able to:
  • Describe the Triangular Trade, and the role New England played. 
  • Describe the origins of slavery, its legal status, and the prevalence of slave ownership in Essex County.  
  • Describe the impact of slavery and the significance of free and enslaved people of African descent to the development of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. 

Pre & post-visit activities

Explore "Salem, Slavery, and the Sacred Cod" and other lesson plans and student activities with primary sources.  

Extend your visit

Explore self-guided activities for your field trip at Salem Maritime. 


Email us to schedule a program. Please include information from "Details" section above. Requests must be submitted at least two weeks in advance. 

Interested in joining us to pilot a new program?

Note in your email if you would like a park ranger to visit your classroom before or after your class field trip at the park. 

This program was made possible by a grant from the National Park Foundation through generous support of partners including Union Pacific Railroad and donors across the country.

Last updated: February 1, 2024