150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation via Digital Platforms

Library of Congress photo: Reunion of former slaves in 1917

U.S. Library of  Congress collection: Reunion of former slaves in 1917.

Library of Congress photo: Reunion of former slaves in 1917.

U.S. Library of Congress collection: Reunion of former slaves in 1917.  Lewis Martin, 100; Martha Elizabeth Banks, 104; Amy Ware, 103, and Rev. S.P. Drew, born free.

U.S. Library of Congress photo: Slave cabin and occupants

U.S. Library of Congress collection: Slave cabin and occupants

By Lillian Williams

On January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order abolishing slavery in the Confederate  states of America.

Without a doubt, it is one of the most significant documents–and turning points–in U.S. history.

As the late historian John Hope Franklin put it: “Although the Presidential decree would not free slaves in areas where the United States could not enforce the Proclamation, it sent a mighty signal both to the slaves and to the Confederacy that enslavement would no longer be tolerated.”  The 13th amendment to the U. S. Constitution, ratified by Congress in 1865, outlawed slavery in all states.

U.S. Library of Congress photo: Federal Writers Project of the 1930's

U.S. Library of Congress collection: Federal Writers Project of the 1930’s

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, this year institutions ranging from the Library of Congress, to local churches and civil rights organizations, will sponsor events, panels and presentations.  At the National Archives in Washington D.C., for example, the following events are scheduled:

  • January 11, Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery. Historians Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer discuss the impact of emancipation.  They also have published a book, Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery, about this period of history.
  • January 24, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865. Annette Gordon Reed, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Professor of Law and History at Harvard University, will lead a panel discussion.
  • January 30, A Declaration of Freedom: Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation and its Legacy of Liberty. The National Archives Afro-American History Society sponsors this panel.

In addition, the Library of Congress will display the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, handwritten by President Lincoln, for six weeks beginning Jan.3. The display also includes personal letters and diaries from that period.

U.S. National Park Service  image: Historic photograph of unnamed slave holding a child

U.S. National Park Service collection: Historic photograph of unnamed slave holding a child

But thanks to digital technologies, many resources are conveniently available online. Among them are:

  •  “The Meaning and Making of Emancipation,” a free eBook published by the National Archives. It’s available for your iPhone, iPad, Android phone or tablet, Nook, Sony Reader, PC or Mac. Download this eBook  here.
U.S. Library of Congress image: A reward poster for runaway slaves from 1847

U.S. Library of Congress collection: A reward poster for runaway slaves from 1847

  • The Chicago History Museum has placed its Civil War classroom resources online in one location. The resources, which include lesson plans for elementary and high school classes, are arranged by subject including Abraham Lincoln; Emancipation Proclamation; black Soldiers; abolitionist movement and northern racism; the soldier’s experience, and photography.

Read the full text of the Emancipation Proclamation here.

U.S. Library of Congress: Attendants at Old Slave Day, Southern Pines, N.C., April 8, 1937

U.S. Library of Congress collection: Attendants at Old Slave Day event, Southern Pines, N.C., April 8, 1937

It’s your turn.  Seek to understand, and to interpret, the lessons of history.  Share your thoughts about this (or any other) period of U.S. history.  Consider ramifications of history for institutions, individuals and society.

Voice your reflections in your own blog, infographic, podcast, video, or  through your favorite social media outlet.

Know that your voice is unique, valuable–and thanks to ever-improving digital technologies, powerful. Advanced digital technologies have emancipated you (and your voice) from traditional gatekeepers.

Use your voice.

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One Response to 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation via Digital Platforms

  1. Pingback: An End to Slavery « Bite Size Canada

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