Featured Primary Sources

African Americans and Emancipation

Nothing can enrich and enliven our understanding of the nation’s past, or dispel apathy about it, more powerfully than primary sources. The primary sources below open up a variety of viewpoints and have been chosen by master teachers specifically for use in the classroom. Affiliate School members can print a packet that includes an image of the document, photograph, or other resource, a transcript where applicable, text to place the document in historical context, and document-based questions. In addition, you may want to search the Gilder Lehrman Collection itself for other resources to enrich your lessons.

Charge of the Massachusetts 54th, Currier & Ives, 1863. (GLC)

African American soldiers at the Battle of Fort Wagner, 1863

Creator: Currier & Ives Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Iowa joint resolution ratifying the 13th Amendment, March 30, 1866. (GLC02631)

Ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment, 1866

Creator: the Iowa General Assembly Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
Issac & Rosa, Slave children from New Orleans, 1863 (GLC05111.02.1051)

Slave Children of New Orleans, 1863

Creator: Charles Paxson Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Emancipation Proclamation [California printing, Cheesman copy], January 1, 1863

The Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
“Men of Color, to Arms! to Arms!” broadside, ca. 1863 (Private Collection)

“Men of Color, To Arms! To Arms,” 1863

Creator: Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:

Primary Sources from Other Sub-Eras

Ku Klux Klan to Davie Jeems, ca. 1868 (Gilder Lehrman Collection)

A Ku Klux Klan threat, 1868

Creator: Ku Klux Klan Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels: 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Frederick Douglass, National Portrait Gallery

Buying Frederick Douglass’s freedom, 1846

Creator: Hugh Auld, Walter Lowrie, and J. Meredith Curriculum Subjects: Economics Grade Levels:
American Anti-Slavery Society (1836) Slave Market of America

Lincoln on the execution of a slave trader, 1862

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
The Hon. Blanche Kelso Bruce of Mississippi, ca. 1870 (Library of Congress)

Nominating an African American for vice president, 1880

Creator: James Milton Turner Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:

Patriotic Postal Covers: “Lincoln & Davis in 5 Rounds,” 1861

Creator: J. H. Tingley Curriculum Subjects: Art Grade Levels:
President Lincoln delivering his inaugural address on the east portico of the U.

President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, 1865

Creator: Abraham Lincoln Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+
Freedmen’s contract between Isham G. Bailey and freedmen Cooper Hughs and Charl

Sharecropper contract, 1867

Creator: Isham G. Bailey Curriculum Subjects: Economics, Government and Civics Grade Levels: 9, 10, 11, 12, 13+