Through the Years: 

African-American History in Champaign County

Lessons to accompany Through the Years newsletter


Goal:  Through a strategic reading of the African-American newsletters, students will analyze museum artifacts and photographs of primary sources in order to connect local history to national events. 


Essential Questions:

1. What do people do to overcome obstacles?

2. How and why were separate facilities UNequal?

3. Where can you find history?


Lesson #1 – Spring 1995 issue

Blacks in Champaign County, 1865-1970

This lesson serves to introduce some critical vocabulary and issues in the study of the African-American experience.

Lesson #2 – Winter 1995/Spring 1996 issue

Reflections on Life

As students read an article written by an African-American woman who came to Champaign in 1938, they learn about her life experiences in this area, how segregation affected her, and how she chose to rise above it.

Lesson #3 – Spring 1997

Prepare for the Future

Estelle Merrifield, the author of this article, says, "There is much to be gained in remembering the past, and more to be gained by projecting into the future that which has been learned as it relates to the improvement of people."  Students develop an understanding of what history is, and why it is important to study history.

Lesson #4 – Summer 1997

The Legato Music Club

Students learn to summarize as they read the article on this local African-American music club.  Extensions for this lesson could be research on African-American musicians such as Paul Robeson and Marian Anderson.  (Websites provided for further research)

Lesson #5 – Spring 1998 issue

A Tribute to the 99th Pursuit Squadron

Students analyze how groups interacted within military institutions, and examine the creation of the Servicemen's Center in Champaign County.  A possible extension (with websites provided) would be a study of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Lesson #6 – Fall/Winter 1999

 Frances Nelson Health Care Center Then and Now

Vocabulary words taught in this lesson include, "adequate, inadequate, indigent, prenatal, expectant, mortality, remedy" as students read about a local health care center designed to help poor mothers.  This lesson encourages students to critically examine the idea of "separate but equal."

Lesson #7 – Millenium issue

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

This lesson involves students in analyzing primary sources – photographs, to begin with.  Then, students use primary sources such as cartoons, articles, etc. to construct a classroom timeline of African-American history.  This timeline will include items from the Through the Years newsletter as well as national primary source documents.

Lesson #8 – Spring/Summer 2000

The Shelton Laundry:  1934-1986

As students develop vocabulary and read about a local family's response to challenges during the Depression, they analyze primary sources (photographs from the Shelton Laundry).

Lesson #9 – Summer 2001

This Legacy is Yours:  Continuing Memories Shared

This lesson helps students understand that history is all around them, and they can begin to study the history of  their own families to better understand themselves and the world around them.

Lesson #10 – Fall 2002/Winter 2003 issue

Our Stories

By reading the biography of a local woman, students begin to connect national historical events to local people.  They learn how to write simple biographies, and many websites are included for further research.