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McREL Standards Activity

The Home Front (Circa 1863)

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will be able to use a variety of primary sources to write a personal account of the Civil War.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
United States History
 Standard 14.Understands the course and character of the Civil War and its effects on the American people
   Level IV [Grade 9-12]
   Benchmark 4. Understands how the Civil War influenced Northern and Southern society on the home front (e.g., the New York City draft riots of July 1863, the Union's reasons for curbing civil liberties in wartime, Lincoln's suspension of the writ of habeas corpus during the war)
Language Arts
 Standard 4.Gathers and uses information for research purposes
   Level IV [Grade 9-12]
   Benchmark 3. Uses a variety of primary sources to gather information for research topics
Student Product:Composition
Material & Resources:The Library of Congress web site provides teachers with some guidance on helping students use primary sources.  In addition, the following web pages may provide links to primary sources:
Teacher's Note:No supplementary notes for this activity.
After reading about life on the home front during the Civil War, students use a variety of primary sources (letters, newspaper articles, diaries, photographs, etc.) to get first-hand accounts of these events.

Have students incorporate the knowledge gained from primary source research into newspaper articles, letters, diary entries or other interactive products that encourage them to put themselves into the context of the Civil War.  Newspaper articles/editorials could take positions on any pertinent subject (such as the draft riots, cost of goods, and Lincoln’s behavior or policies).  Letters could be from wives, fathers, brothers, mothers, to soldiers describing what life is like back home on farms or in cities, or from soldiers asking about life on the homefront and describing their experiences in the war.  Students should, for example, think about the daily life of farm families in the absence of able-bodied young men--how did older family members (i.e. aging parents), or wives with small children adapt to a world without male labor?