Families in Bondage

This lesson uses letters written by African American slaves to gain understanding of the impact of slavery.  Covers reading and analyzing text for tone and point of view. Students also respond to these texts by writing about them. Great lesson about the impact of slavery.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3003.3.1
Write in a variety of modes, with particular emphasis on persuasion, for different purposes and audiences.
CLE 3003.8.1
Demonstrate knowledge of significant works of American literature from the colonial period to the present and make relevant comparisons.
CLE 3003.8.3
Recognize the conventions of various literary genres and understand how they articulate the writers vision.
CLE 3003.8.4
Analyze works of American literature for what is suggested about the historical period in which they were written.
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Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • For further insight into the experience of slavery and into African American family life during slave times, have students examine a letter written in 1857 by a slave woman named Vilet Lester, accessible through EDSITEment at the Documents of African-American Women. For a more fully developed firsthand portrayal of slave life, have students read Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, by Harriet Ann Jacobs, available through EDSITEment at the Documenting the American South.
  • Finally, to broaden students' perspective, have them visit the "African American Odyssey" exhibit at the American Memory Project website, accessible through EDSITEment. (At the American Memory homepage, click on "Browse" for a list of online resources, then select "African American Odyssey.") This rich collection of images documents black America's quest for equality from the late 18th century down to the Civil Rights Era, with extensive material on slavery and the tradition of resistance to enslavement through strategies ranging from open rebellion to the pursuit of spiritual freedom in religious faith.