The Commonwealth
August 2010

Featured Lesson Plan: Jim Crow and Virginia Indians

Pamunkey Indian School, Pamunkey Indian Reservation, King William County, School Buildings Service Photograph Collection, Library of Virginia.

The newest version of the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) will be implemented across Virginia this year, and we at the Library of Virginia were pleased to see a fuller inclusion of American Indians in this version's history standards than in the 2001 version. Having noticed the changes, we set out to create lesson plans to reflect these updates. One notable place that American Indians will be studied now is in the lessons of Jim Crow–era Virginia and the United States. VS.8b now includes the Essential Knowledge that "'Jim Crow' laws had an effect on American Indians," and USII.4c now includes the Essential Knowledge that "American Indians were not considered citizens until 1924."
One lesson plan we developed to cover these new SOLs is Jim Crow and Virginia Indians. The plan will be available on the Shaping the Constitution Web portal at, but you can preview it here.

Jim Crow and Virginia Indians is a primary source–based plan that explores the tri-racial social system in place in Virginia for most of the twentieth century. During a discussion of segregation, Jim Crow, and discrimination within the forty-minute lesson, students witness the discrepancies in separate-but-equal facilities through photographs of schoolhouses for white, African American, and Pamunkey Indian children. They use an official letter from the director of the Bureau of Vital statistics from 1943 to learn about the effects of Virginia's Racial Integrity Act on Virginia Indians and American Americans, and they discuss how this act was used to reclassify American Indians into the same category as African Americans, or as "colored." So get your class up and moving around while exploring primary sources, learning about their heritage as Virginians, and covering essential SOL knowledge!

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Lesson Plan: Jim Crow and Virginia Indians

Historical Sources:

Halifax County School Photographs

Pamunkey Schoolhouse, Photograph, May 31, 1937

Walter Plecker Asserted that Virginia Indians No Longer Exist, December 1943


Virginia Standards of Learning:
VS.8The student will demonstrate knowledge of the reconstruction of Virginia following the Civil War by
a) identifying the effects of Reconstruction on life in Virginia;
b) identifying the effects of segregation and “Jim Crow” on life in Virginia for whites, African Americans, and American Indians.

USII.4 The student will demonstrate knowledge of how life changed after the Civil War by
c) describing racial segregation, the rise of “Jim Crow,” and other constraints faced by African Americans and other groups in the post-Reconstruction South.

Brief Background Information:
American Indians were not American citizens even after ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, and they were often discriminated against and denied the equal protection of the laws. After the Civil War, white government officials in Virginia began to enforce racial distinctions that before the war had not always affected American Indian descendants. After the creation of the public school system, American Indian children were not allowed to attend white schools. Legalized segregation forced American Indian communities to search for differences between themselves and African Americans. For American Indian tribes, reasserting American Indian identity meant rejecting the biracial categories of “white” and “colored.”
Schools became a key site in which to assert American Indian autonomy. Between 1880 and 1920, many American Indian communities established their own schools rather than attend black schools. In this way, American Indians resisted the color line by insisting on the creation of “Indian” as a third category. In Virginia, the Pamunkey tribe went so far as to carry membership cards so that they could not be forced onto the “colored” railway coach. Some Pamunkey tribal chiefs wore their hair long in order to show that it was straight and not curly. The Pamunkey tribe established its own school, which consisted of a single-story frame building.

Materials Needed:

-Three different colored cards (enough for each student to have one card); have an equal number of two colors and a smaller number of the third color.

-Printouts of the Walter Plecker's 1943 letter or the transcript for each student

Teacher Preparation:
Read the essays about the "Pamunkey Schoolhouse" and "Walter Plecker Asserted that Virginia Indians No Longer Exist" at Shaping the Constitution.

Teacher Actions:

1. Have students brainstorm about times they have faced discrimination, or identify current events that show how people face discrimination. Discuss the meanings of

segregation: The separation of people, usually based on race or religion
discrimination: An unfair difference in the treatment of people
“Jim Crow” laws: Laws that legally established segregation, or separation of the races, and reinforced prejudices held by whites

 2. Take out sets of three different colored cards (for example: pink, blue, and green). Have an equal number of two colors (pink and blue) and a smaller number of the third color (green).
Shuffle and pass the cards out to all the students. Tell the pink group to move to one side of the room and the blue group to the other side. Tell the green group that they can decide individually whether to stand together in the middle or back of the room, or to join one of the other groups.

3. Now bring up the pictures of the white and African American schools. Tell the pink group that they have to go to the white school. Tell the blue group that they have to go to the African American school. Ask the green group which school they'd rather go to and have them join that group.

4. Pass out the Plecker letter. (Have students pair up or join in small groups of people near them when reading and discussing the letters.) Draw attention to the last two paragraphs and have a student or two read them out loud:
Public records in the office of the Bureau of Vital Statistics, and in the State Library, indicate that there does not exist today a descendant of the Virginia ancestors claiming to be an Indian who is unmixed with negro blood. Since our more complete investigation of all of these records and the statements (mostly signed) of numerous trustworthy old citizens, many now dead, all preserved in our "racial integrity" files, no one has attempted by early recorded evidence to disprove this finding. If such evidence exists, our research worker would have found it.
One weak point, which is giving us endless trouble, is the fact that many birth certificates since 1912 have, without realization of future danger, been accepted with false registration as "Indian." Not a few, when we were off our guard, have slipped by as white. The General Assembly should empower us to state the recorded pedigree on the backs of such certificates and transcripts, to protect those desiring the truth now and in the future.

5. Ask a student to explain what these paragraphs mean. Discuss with the class the implications for the Virginia Indians.

6. Show the African American school and tell the green group to stand with the blue group. Then show the Pamunkey schoolhouse; ask which in the green group would rather go to school there. Allow the green group to re-form their own separate group.

7. Discuss the Virginia Indians' backlash against the biracial society in the state during the Jim Crow era. Why did Virginia Indians not want to be classified with African Americans? Why might a Virginia Indian or an African American try to pass as white?

8. Analysis: Again, have the students discuss the meanings of

segregation, discrimination, and “Jim Crow” laws

How have their understandings of these words changed with the addition of a third category of people? If you have time, you might discuss current shifts in demographics and discrimination felt by Latino Americans today or Asian Americans during WWII.

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This Day in Virginia History: In the Classroom

Virginia (Colony), Colonial Papers, Petition of Meherrin, 12 or 13 September 1723, Accession 36138, State Government Records Collection, Library of Virginia.

September 13, 1723

Indians at Nansemond Town Petitioned the Governor

This is the perfect short document to discuss the interactions between European settlers and American Indians in colonial Virginia. A group of Virginia Indians appealed to the governor to help them as North Carolina settlers were coming over the border to survey the Indians' land with plans to build houses on it. Further, the colonists had been allowing their livestock to graze in the Indians' corn fields and were eating the Indian's crops themselves.

Pass out transcriptions of the document and after letting your students puzzle with the words, read it out loud. Be sure to discuss the obvious language barrier created by the poor writing of the petitioners. What are the Indians at Nansemond Town complaining about? What is the tone of the document? What does this document tell us about relations between European Virginians and American Indians during the colonial era?

For more background information on this document and further activities, see our lesson plan at the, Online Classroom, Petition of the Meherrin Indians.

SOL Correlation:
The student will demonstrate knowledge of European explorations in North America and West Africa by
b) describing cultural and economic interactions between Europeans and American Indians that led to cooperation and conflict, with emphasis on the American Indian concept of land.

Essential Question
How did the American Indians and Europeans interact with each other?
Essential understanding
The interactions between American Indians and Europeans sometimes led to cooperation and other times
resulted in conflict.
Areas of conflict
• Land
• Differences in cultures
• Language differences

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The 2010 Anne and Ryland Brown Teacher Research Fellow

The Library of Virginia is pleased to announce the second annual Anne and Ryland Brown Teacher Research Fellows for 2010. Founded in 2009, the Anne and Ryland Brown Teacher Research Fellowship provides Virginia educators the opportunity to research and study a specific aspect of Virginia history and produce educational resources to support the Library of Virginia’s ongoing exhibition and education programs. The award includes a stipend of $2,000 and a $500 allocation to cover fees and travel for conference presentations.

Penny Anderson

Penny Anderson teaches world geography and advanced placement human geography at Riverbend High School in Fredericksburg. She is a graduate of Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington) and earned a master’s degree in professional teaching from George Mason University. In addition to her teaching duties, Anderson is an active member of the Virginia Geographic Alliance and has consulted for the last two years with National Geographic’s "My Wonderful World" project. She is working with the Library’s map collection to create lesson plans that incorporate these resources into classrooms throughout the commonwealth.

Anderson called the Brown Fellowship “a marvelous opportunity to not only explore the resources provided by the Library of Virginia, but also to expand my own experience using the vast map collections housed in the Library. The Fry-Jefferson and Alan Voorhees map collections are two incredible resources that offer excellent primary source documents for use in a K-12 classroom.”

Jennifer Zecher

Jennifer Zecher is a member of the faculty at Park View High School in Sterling, where she teaches U.S. history and advanced placement U.S. history. She earned a master’s degree in secondary education from the College of William and Mary, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from George Mason University. During her ten years at Park View, Zecher has demonstrated a creative approach to classroom instruction, successfully integrating primary sources and digital media into her lessons. When asked about her time researching at the Library this summer, Zecher commented that “the vast resources at the Library of Virginia can both help teachers and uncover the history of Virginia and America. Kids would be really surprised by Virginia’s role in American history in general.”

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2010 Anne and Ryland Brown Teacher Institute

The first annual Anne and Ryland Brown Teacher Institute was held at the Library of Virginia this July. The two-day event, “Union or Secession: Virginians Decide,” focused on Virginia’s path toward disunion between the fall of 1860 and the spring of 1861. Eighteen participants were treated to presentations by some of the leading scholars on Virginia history, including William W. Freehling, Gregg D. Kimball, Lauranett L. Lee, and Elizabeth R. Varon.

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Some Welcome Feedback

At the Library of Virginia we welcome feedback on our public resources. That is why when we got an e-mail from Peggy Hammond of Washington, D.C., saying that she had more information concerning Judith Hope (the subject of both a This Day in Virginia History entry, January 17, and a Lesson Plan on our Online Classroom), we were intrigued.
Judith Hope was an enslaved woman born about 1803 whose father, a free man, had purchased both her and her mother. Upon her father's death, Hope's mother inherited the young woman and Hope petitioned the General Assembly several times to get permission to stay in the state if her mother were to emancipate her. In Virginia at that time, it was illegal for a newly emancipated person to remain in the state for more than a year upon gaining his or her freedom. We don't know whether Judith Hope got permission from the General Assembly to stay in the state, but she was emancipated when her mother died in 1828. There her story trailed off, or so we thought.
Peggy Hammond is a descendant of Judith Hope and has uncovered far more of her story. Hope lived in Richmond after her emancipation and at some point married a shoemaker named Benjamin Wythe Judah. They had children and owned property in the city. After the Civil War, Judith Hope Judah opened a Freedmen's Bank account. She died in 1873, having seen the emancipation of all Virginia's slaves.
Armed with this new information, we updated our lesson plan and the entry for This Day in Virginia History. Thanks again to Hammond for helping to make our online resources just a little better!

Petition from Judith Hope: Lesson Plan

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Upcoming Events

Adoption of the Virginia Declaration of Rights, Virginia State Artwork Collection: acquired: 1974, Library of Virginia.

Thursday, September 23, 2010 | 8:30 am to 5:00 pm
Teacher Workshop: “We, The People” Through Primary Sources

What role did Virginians play in the founding of the United States? What were their contributions to the nation’s founding documents: the U. S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights? These and other questions will be explored during the “‘We, the People’ Through Primary Documents” workshop. Teachers will spend the morning with Professor John P. Kaminski, historian and founder and director of the Center for the Study of the American Constitution at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Staff members from the Library of Virginia will demonstrate lesson plans and share resources from the “Shaping the Constitution” Web portal, which makes available to the classroom digital copies of important documents from the Library of Virginia and the Library of Congress related to America's Founding Era and the United States Constitution. In the afternoon, teachers will learn techniques for teaching the “We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution” curriculum using primary documents.

This program is cosponsored by the Center for Civic Education, a nonpartisan organization funded by the U.S. Department of Education by act of Congress, and the Center for the Constitution at James Madison’s Montpelier.

The workshop is open to Virginia educators of all grade levels. There is no charge for accepted participants. Lunch will be provided. Participants will receive a certificate for eight hours that may be used toward recertification credits. Sessions will take place at the Library of Virginia, 800 E. Broad Street, Richmond, Virginia, 23219-8000.

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Looking for ways to incorporate primary source documents into your curriculum?

Schedule members of our staff to lead a professional development workshop at your location.
Here’s what past participants are saying:
“I am looking forward to integrating these resource materials in my 4th grade lessons!”
“The visuals handed out were very useful because they can be used in the classroom!”
“The depth of the educational effort being provided by the Library of Virginia is excellent!”

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