Lesson Plans
Lesson Plans Recommended for Grades 9-12

Introduction | Lesson 1 | Lesson 2 | Lesson 3

Lesson 3: A Primary Source Document Activity

The primary source documents referenced or transcribed here can be used individually with the Written Document Analysis Worksheet or collectively with the following outlined activity. Copies of the primary documents cited in this exercise can be obtained from the National Archives, Washington.

  • Provide students with a copy of the recruitment poster and ask them to answer the following questions:
    1. What are the terms of the recruitment poster? Why would these terms be considered important?
    2. What government officials have affixed their names to the document? Why?
    3. What might be the reaction of African Americans in the North who read this poster? Why?
    4. How effective do you think this poster was in the recruitment of blacks to join the Union Army? Why?
  • Provide students with the document of the casualty list (from the National Archives, Washington) of the Massachusetts Fifty-fourth Regiment assault on Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863. Ask the students to respond to the following questions:
    1. What might one conclude about this regiment's assault on Fort Wagner? Why?
  • Provide students with an image of the inscriptions of the Shaw Memorial with the names of the men that were added in 1981. Ask students:
    1. to find the names on the casualty record that are matched on the rear of the monument.
    2. to hypothesize why it took close to 120 years after the assault on Fort Wagner to add the names to the monument.
  • Provide students with a copy of the letter from Colonel Edward Hallowell to Governor Andrew of Massachusetts. Tell the students that Hallowell assumed command of the regiment after Shaw was killed in the assault on Fort Wagner. After students have read the letter ask them to respond to the following questions:
    1. What is the subject of this letter? Why?
    2. Why do you think Hallowell has addressed the letter to Governor Andrew?
    3. How do the contents of this letter compare to the guarantees stated on the recruitment poster?
    4. Why do you think that the United States government decided to pay these particular soldiers $3 less than other Union soldiers?
  • Provide students with the following lines from the back of the Shaw Memorial.
    "The black rank and file volunteered when
    disaster clouded the Union cause served
    without pay for eighteen months till given
    that of white troops faced threatened
    enslavement if captured were brave in action
    patient under heavy and dangerous
    labors and cheerful amid
    hardships and privations."

    After students have read the inscription provide copies of the letter from Charles Eliot to Saint-Gaudens. Have students answer the following questions:

    1. What is the purpose of the original inscription? Why do you think that it was added to the monument?
    2. What is the purpose of the letter from Charles Eliot to Saint-Gaudens? Why?
    3. Should Saint-Gaudens have been consulted on this matter? Why or why not?
    4. Do you think that the issue of pay should have been addressed on the memorial? Why or why not?

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Lesson PlansSelected BibliographyRelated WebsitesRelated Works
IntroductionThe ArtistHistorical BackgroundThe Memorial and Its ConservationThe ExhibitionTeaching Resources

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