The juxtaposition of the ideals of a democratic society against a history of slavery can lead to many discussions of the role of a democratic government in meeting the needs of all people. It also leads to discussion of protection to all citizens under the U.S. Constitution and the processes of law.
History, and Kentucky's social studies content in government and civics, culture and society, are important components of the documentary Kentucky's Underground Railroad-Passage to Freedom. In particular, the documentary brings into focus the diversity of opinion as to the amount of help escaping slaves may have had from whites, other slaves, free blacks, and religious organizations.
One of the themes of the documentary is that more research needs to be conducted, both by scholars and by people interested in their communities. Identification, documentation and preservation of artifacts and records are needed. The documentary illustrates the importance of using primary sources: oral histories, narratives, newspapers, government records, maps, artifacts; and of seeking corroboration among sources.
Teachers at the intermediate and middle levels can review KET's professional development series The Community: A Resource for the Classroom, particularly seminar #2, Community History and Changes Over Time, with the accompanying series of student programs on community study, Where Do You Live? Both the professional development series and the student programs have extensive teacher guides.
Gather oral histories of elderly relatives or members of the community. Try to piece together a record of one historical event using the oral histories corroborated by research using other primary sources, such as old newspaper stories.
Choose an old building that appears to have had an interesting history, Find out as much as is possible about the building using old maps, courthouse records, interviews with neighbors, etc. Turn the material into a story for the local newspaper.
Connections to Kentucky's Core Content for Assessment for History
History is an account of human activities that is interpretive in nature.
Elementary, Middle and High
The history of the United States is a chronicle of a diverse people and the nation they formed.