Lesson Plans

CWRGM lesson plans are designed by experienced educators who specialize in social studies, language arts, geography, and economics. Our goal is to help educators and students to dig deeply into our rich collections to

  1. Better understand this revolutionary era
  2. Learn fundamental skills in historical analysis and interpretation.

Our educators have designed these plans around a central idea: one of the best ways to understand the past is to conduct research using primary sources. These lesson plans utilize the Mississippi's governors' papers featured on the site—in conjunction with brief, accessible secondary source literature—to help students practice their critical analysis skills and study this tumultuous period.

Secession in Mississippi

These lesson plans examine secession as a process, not a moment. They help students explore white Mississippians' reaction to the state's potential (and later actual) departure from the union and the opinions they shared with their governor that reveal their priorities, their beliefs, and their hopes for the future.

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Soldiers & the Military Experience

These lesson plans help site users explore the wartime experiences of Mississippi soldiers and their families. They reveal men's frustrations with military discipline, hardships suffered by families with their men absent, and the gradual increase of dissent and desertion across the state.

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Immigration in Civil War-era Mississippi

These lesson plans help students explore the experiences of immigrants in Civil War-era Mississippi as they wrestled with their rights as citizens or non-citizens, asked questions about the draft, and faced questions of disloyalty.

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Native Sovereignty

These lessons will demonstrate that multiple interests—beyond North and South, white and Black—were at stake during the war. While Union victory brought emancipation and the end of slavery, the Union also waged war to limit Native sovereignty.

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Lesson Plan Sampler: Dissent, Slavery, & Class

These lesson plans use a small sampling of CWRGM documents to explore three commonly-explored themes of the Civil War era: enslavement, conscription, and the experience of war. They link a topic with related documents to specific grade level.

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Civilians & Divided Loyalties

These lesson plans are designed to help students study the impact of military campaigns and other wartime pressures on the Mississippi home front. They also reveal that while some Mississippians remained devoted Confederates, others were steadfast Unionists, while others changed their positions during the war. Students can also explore the changing gender roles women experienced in the war — thrusting them into positions as heads of households in the absence of husbands, fathers, or adult sons in military service. Women of all classes asserted their needs to the governor, especially soldiers' wives and widows. The collection also indicates that women's leadership of households did not end with the war. Considering the high death toll of the Civil War (750,000 Americans (military and civilian; North and South), and the number of permanently disabled veterans, it shouldn't be surprising that women would need to remain in roles as breadwinners.

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Slavery, the Draft, and War in Civil War-era Mississippi

These lesson plans use CWRGM documents that reveal Mississippians' concerns about the Confederate draft, the larger war, and the instability of the slave system. The plans also provide opportunities for struggling learners and for more advanced learners, allowing teachers to use the resources that best fit their classroom needs. As the designer of these plans explains, these resources are all about the emotions surrounding these three issues, and "that's what the [classroom] conversation should be about — more than anything."

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Confederate Conscription & Desertion

This lesson will introduce students to how Mississippians responded to conscription and most importantly, forms of wartime dissent within Mississippi to challenge the idea that southerners universally supported the Confederate war effort.

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Emancipation & Citizenship

These lesson plans use documents from the CWRGM collection that help students consider emancipation as a process, not something that happened immediately after President Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. The plans help classes consider the uneven nature of that process, too; it was very much a process of advances and setbacks that being increasingly difficult and dangerous as Reconstruction failed and Jim Crow policies strengthened in Mississippi. Finally, these plans help students understand the powerful connection between emancipation and citizenship; the rights, or potential rights, that African Americans received or should have received as citizens in nineteenth-century America.

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Race & Labor during Reconstruction

This lesson plan is designed to explore conflict over Black labor during the Reconstruction Era. Convict leasing programs allowed southern states to legally circumvent the Thirteenth Amendment, and these programs demonstrate that although chattel slavery was eliminated, emancipation was not immediate or universal.

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Memory & Commemoration

These lesson plans focus on documents that show how generations after the Civil War remember and commemorated those events. They help students understand how commemorations can often reveal more about the person remembering than the event itself. There are also documents in this section that focus on wartime or Reconstruction-era events that can help us understand more about historical remembrance and "mis-rememberance."

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