Digital History>eXplorations>Servitude and Slavery

Teacher Resources

This page contains specific resources developed for teachers using this Exploration.

Entire Unit | Indentured Servitude | Colonial Slavery | Fugitive Slaves in Colonial Virginia

Focusing Event for Entire Unit

Use the Venn Diagram (Microsoft Word format) to find what students already know about indentured servitude and slavery during colonial America.

This activity can either be done individually or in small groups. It is probably best if students share these as a whole class and contribute to a larger Venn diagram.

As a whole class assignment, the diagram could be projected on a SmartBoard and facts about slavery and servitude could be added with colored markers.

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Exploration 1: Indentured Servitude and Slavery

Focusing Event:

What if there were no Indentured Servants or Slaves…How would America be different? Brainstorm this idea with the class.

Getting ready to read:

Have students access the word inventory (Microsoft Word format).
Some of the reading is rather hard to understand. These are just a few of the words that either needs to be discussed or suggestions by the teacher can help students find definitions.

As the students read from the two accounts, have them complete the comparison jot chart. (Microsoft Word format).

Extending the Exploration

1. View this timeline of antislavery in America

Ask students to analyze the events and list what are the most pivotal events in our history. Students can then write an exploration paper describing what America would be like today if the event never happened.

2. Consider both perspectives and choose one.

Using that perspective, write a letter to a friend in England describing your living situation either as an indentured servant or slave in the American colonies. Be sure to describe living conditions, financial conditions, relationships with others, and any other information that you think is important. You may use Elizabeth’s letter, Hammond’s essay, or any of the other activities we have already completed. The letter should be no more than one page.

3. Go to the website Slavery in America at

Now click on the "Roads to Freedom" icon on the left side of the page.

Along the bottom are the 6 possible roads to freedom the slaves could take. Look at all of them but especially find one that you want to study further. Share the results with the class.

There are lots of great lesson plans on this site – look especially at the lesson plan for Self Purchase

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Exploration 2: Colonial Slavery

Students may select one of the accounts from this section and summarize this person's experience in a paragraph or two. Include what is happening to the individual, what did they witness, etc.

List several things you learned from the reading that you didn’t already know.

Now do a web search on Religion in Colonial America.

How did the Puritans, Quakers, or even Calvinists reconcile their religious beliefs with what went on with the slaves.

Did early Colonial religion look like the religion we see practiced today? Why or why not?

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Fugitive Slaves in Colonial Virginia

Dr. Mary Gray at the University of Houston has created a web project about analyzing runaway slave ads.

View this project:

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