The National Archives at Atlanta is one of thirteen regional archives in the National Archives and Records Administration system holding approximately 180,000 cubic feet of Federal records. These historic documents date from the late 1700s to near the present and are ideal for exploring of American history.
Document-Based Narrative Presentations
The Long Civil Rights Movement
Using documents from a variety of National Archives facilities, this interpretation of the Civil Rights Movement begins with the Freedmen’s Bureau records and ends with Dr. King’s involvement in the Memphis Garbage Workers’ strike and his assassination.
Alphabet Soup: The Federal Government’s Response to the Great Depression
The New Deal was a turning point in the workings of the central government. This presentation explores the conditions that faced America and the immediate reactions to them.
The Southern Homefront in World War II
Records held at the National Archives at Atlanta tell the story of World War II at home. From documents promoting women in the workplace and encouraging textile production, to investigating discrimination in war production industries and describing German U-boats sinking freighters off the Carolina Coast, these documents even tell the story of the largest of the Secret Cities.
From the Frying Pan Into the Fire: The Cold War Heats Up
Using both historic images and textual documents, events from the last days of World War II to the Cuban Missile Crisis will be explored, including the Kennan Telegram, McCarthyism, the firing of MacArthur, and the Bay of Pigs.
Document-Based Activity Labs
The Tennessee Valley Authority: The Controversy of Progress
The TVA is often taught as a wonderful and progressive project that brought electricity and flood control to the South. Some documents, however, tell the story of uprooted families and government in direct competition with private industry.
The Surprising Papers in the Case of the Heirs of George Rogers Clark
In the 1840s, the descendants of George Rogers Clark filed a court case concerning a property dispute along the Mississippi Valley. Copies of pertinent documents dating back to the 1730s obtained from England for the case deal with relationships with the Cherokee, colonial expansion into the west, and the transfer of influence from the British to the Americans.
Documents of Slavery
Although predominantly a state issue, slavery did come in contact with the Federal government in many ways. Participants will analyze slave manifests before and after the 1808 ruling ending the Atlantic slave trade, court cases dealing with violations of the slave trade act, and disputes involving human property.
Document Study Activities
Studies in Historical Demography
Textbooks usually tell us about the rich and famous. But what about the average person? How do we learn about their lives? Many records in the National Archives contain limited data recorded on large groups of people. By compiling data on these people, a portrait of the times can come to life. Students will compile that data and draw their own conclusions about the people and the era in which they lived.
World War I Selective Service Registrations
The National Archives at Atlanta has all 24 million draft cards for the entire United States. Students will compile the data on men ages 18–45 in 1917–1918. What were their occupations? Do their occupations exist today? Were they citizens or aliens? What do the cards tell us about the times?
Union Death and Interment Records from Chattanooga during the Civil War
As Union soldiers died in and around Chattanooga from late 1863 until the end of the war, they were interred in what would become the Chattanooga National Cemetery. From what state regiment were they a member? What were their ages? From what did they die? What do the initials USCT mean?
Students are usually taught that the Civil Rights Movement began when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat. There were many other events and leaders, however, before the Montgomery Bus Boycott. What were the strategies they used for social change and were these strategies effective? These three activities challenge students to think about what came before the more popularized Civil Rights events.
What effect, if any, did the Fair Employment Practices Commission (FEPC) of World War II have on the Civil Rights Movement in the South?
FDR created the FEPC when A. Philip Randolph threatened a “March on Washington” in July 1941. It promised non-discriminatory practices in the war production industry. But did it deliver? The documents in this activity focus on the walkout of white workers at the Alabama Dry Dock and Ship Building Company when black welders “integrated” the Liberty Ship factory in Mobile, Alabama, in 1943. You may instruct your students to write an essay answering the title question when they return to your classroom.
The General Assembly of South Carolina, Elmore v. Rice, and the Right to Vote in the Democratic Party Primary
In 1944 a Federal Court Case in Texas ruled that African Americans could vote in political party primaries. In reaction to this ruling, South Carolina called a special session of the legislature to change all laws pertaining to primary elections to maintain white supremacy. George Elmore and his lawyer, Thurgood Marshall, challenged the state’s attempt to suppress the right to vote. What did the Federal Court rule in South Carolina and what effect, if any, did it have on the Civil Rights Movement? Your students will debate the effectiveness of all strategies involved.
The Trial that Won the Montgomery Bus Boycott
From the transcripts of the trial that decided the Montgomery Bus Boycott, students will take on the roles of the judge who heard the case, the attorneys who argued it, and three female plaintiffs that told of their experiences on the city buses. Which one is Rosa Parks? Students in the audience will decide.