After Slavery: New Website and CFP


Below is an announcement of a fantastic ongoing project, focusing on teaching about race, labor, and citizenship in the post-slavery South, which should serve many of you in the classroom. At the bottom of this post, I'll put up the call for papers for a conference emanating out of this project, to be held in March 2010 at the College of Charleston. Some of the online teaching units are already up and ready for use; others are still under construction. Take a look and let the creators of this project know your feedback.

The After Slavery Project, a transatlantic research collaboration directed from Queen’s University Belfast, will today formally launch its ‘Online Classroom’–a set of ten online units that explore the aftermath of emancipation in the Carolinas. The teaching units, organized thematically to cover a range of compelling topics, offer students and educators a unique new online resource–accessible, attractive, and attuned to the best of recent scholarship, richly illustrated and with an array of compelling primary source materials from dozens of archival collections.

After Slavery understands the contest that developed after emancipation not simply as an attempt by African Americans to overcome the racial legacies that attended and outlived slavery, but as a profoundly important chapter in the history of America's working people. One aspect of this story that has become clearer in recent years is the varietyof experience among former slaves across the South.
These variations make it necessary to move away from broad generalizations about ‘the’ African American experience after the Civil War and to try to uncover both the shared elements in black life across the region and the varying capacity of freedpeople to mobilize. This emphasis on the “multiple configurations of freedom” across the post-emancipation South provides the rationale for the project’s focus on North and South Carolina: together these states reflect the productive, demographic, political and geographic diversity of the region as a whole.

Although the site is a work-in-progress, we are convinced that already it fills a glaring gap in the resources available for teaching and studying one of the most tumultuous and critically important chapters in U. S. history. We’re encouraged by the feedback from those who’ve visited, and over the coming months will be working together with a group of nationally-recognized high school teachers to enhance the site and fine-tune it for classroom use. Later this year,
After Slavery will launch a ‘workers’ history project’ in Charleston, involving labor and community activists and their families in exploring that city’s rich history and building their own linked website.

Over the past generation, historians studying the aftermath of slave emancipation in the United States have produced some of the most compelling scholarship in the field of US history, changing forever the way we look at this critical aspect of our history.
After Slavery aims to convey to a broad audience of teachers, students and citizens a sense of the excitement that this ongoing engagement with the past has delivered. We invite you to visit
<> ; to offer us your feedback, and to make use of the material we’ve collected in the Online Classroom in your teaching.

Brian Kelly, Queen’s University Belfast
Susan E. O’Donovan, University of Memphis
Bruce E. Baker, Royal Holloway –University of London
Kerry Taylor, The Citadel

What Scholars Are Saying About the After Slavery Project:

“This engaging website combines the most up-to-date scholarship on the aftermath
of slavery with a set of provocative and fascinating documents and other materials ideal for classroom use. It will allow a broad online readership to understand where our thinking now stands on this pivotal moment in American history.”
Eric Foner
Dewitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University
Author of
Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877

“An invaluable resource, rich in insight and immensely helpful for those who seek guidance on the topic. will be used with profit by students, teachers, and scholars.”
Walter Edgar
Director of the Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina
author of
South Carolina: A History

“This turning point in our history, explored in such detail at is, sadly,
mostly absent from the high school classroom. The stories of transformation and the long and arduous struggle for equality of 4 million former slaves–their struggle for recognition, freedom, and basic human rights–is rarely even touched on. After Slavery helps to fill this void in the American history curriculum by introducing cutting edge scholarship and well-chosen primary sources to bring voice to this untold story.”
Ann Claunch
Director of Curriculum, U. S. National History Day
Professor Emeritus in the History of Education, University of New Mexico

“This is an exciting, well-conceived, and very valuable project. It promises to be a great resource for scholars, teachers, and students. The history of the Carolinas can capture the variety of experiences in the period after slavery and also reveal the depth of the challenges faced as African Americans sought to realize the promise of freedom.”
Paul D. Escott
Reynolds Professor of History, Wake Forest University
author of
North Carolinians in the Era of the Civil War and Reconstruction

Call for Papers

conference on

Race, Labor & Citizenship in the

Post-Emancipation South

Charleston, March 11-13, 2010
College of Charleston
Charleston, South Carolina

keynote by Steven Hahn

author of the prize-winning

A Nation Under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration

One hundred years ago the outstanding African American scholar-activist, W. E. B. Du Bois, presented to the American Historical Association a paper entitled “Reconstruction and Its Benefits.” In the paper and in his seminalBlack Reconstruction, published a quarter century later, Du Bois not only exposed the racial assumptions underpinning the dominant view of the period following slave emancipation: he insisted that the struggles over slavery and the shape of the freedom that followed were central to the history of America’s working people, calling it “the kernel and meaning of the labor movement in the United States.” Over the past generation, historians have built upon Du Bois’s powerful insight about the connections between race, labor and citizenship in the post-emancipation South, producing some of the most compelling scholarship in the field of U. S. history.

The After Slavery Project, a transatlantic research collaboration based at Queen’s University Belfast, welcomes proposals from scholars at all levels for individual papers and panels that showcase new and developing research on these and related themes across the former slave South, between the end of the Civil War and the early years of the twentieth century. As part of our commitment to making this scholarship widely available to teachers and students outside of higher education, labor and community activists, and interested citizens, we invite proposals for teachers’ workshops and panels that attempt to link new scholarship and public/popular history and/or online learning.

Possible topics include:
Labor and the Politics of Reconstruction
Freedwomen, Citizenship and the Public Sphere
Freedom, Property Rights and the Land Question in the Postwar South
Black Workers, the Union Leagues and the Republican Party
White Supremacy and the Prospects for Interracialism
The Franchise and Grassroots Political Activism
Coercion, Paramilitary Violence and Resistance
Emigration Movements and Black Mobility
Gender and the Free Labor Vision
Religion and Southern Laborers
Dockworkers, Port Cities and Black Mobilization
Race Leadership after ‘Redemption’
Populism and the Color Line
Agricultural and Urban Labor
Race, Labor and New South Industrialization
Independent Politics after 1880
Proposals (limit 200 words/paper) should be submitted along with a c.v. by November 20, 2009 either electronically to or by completing the online form.


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