Music helps all people maintain their cultures, express themselves, communicate, and get through hard times. We have some written and oral records of the music of enslaved African Americans, especially in the American South in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This music incorporated African and European musical traditions, string, percussion, and other instruments, and was influential in the development of such styles as gospel, jazz, and blues. The PBS site "Slavery and the Making of America" offers recordings, lyrics, and commentary for a variety of different examples of the music of enslaved African Americans, allowing teachers and students to explore "the soundscape of slavery."
A Slave Song, Barbados, 1770s-1780s
Musical transcriptions of early slave songs are very rare. This is the earliest one in existence. Although it was sung and transcribed in Barbados, similar songs were sung throughout the Americas.
The Next Electronic Field Trip
is The Bill of Rights
October 10, 2013
Free Electronic Field Trip
New, Lower Pricing for Electronic Field Trips
As part of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's core mission objective to reach new and distant audiences, we have reduced the price of our Electronic Field Trip series to $250 for a series (a 50% reduction) or $50 individually.
Our Emmy Award-winning Electronic Field Trips educate and inspire young learners across the nation. Each trip includes comprehensive online resources and live monthly interactive events.
Engage today's learners with multimodal activities and visually rich content emphasizing American history. Learn more at www.history.org/trips.
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New podcasts posted every Monday!
This month's vodcast: Keyboard Instruments
The Idea of America
A digital American history program that inspires and prepares high school students for active citizenship, developed by Colonial Williamsburg and distributed by Pearson Education.
**Learn more in America: The Pocket Guide, a quick yet comprehensive look at our revolutionary framework for understanding and teaching American history.**
Our next live webcast, American Ideas: Looking to Yorktown, will be on Thursday, June 27th from 3:454:45 p.m. Host Cathy Lewis will discuss the preparations, possible outcomes and implications of the upcoming battle at Yorktown with General Washington, Marquis de Lafayette, General Cornwallis and Colonial Williamsburg historian Taylor Stoermer, live from behind the Governors Palace. Engage with us via the chat room or on Twitter at connect.history.org.
Work songs played a vital part in the lives of enslaved African Americans. The songs provide insight into the daily realities of slave life, with lyrics, melodies, and rhythms reflecting death, the master's whip, their lack of food, and the rhythm and pace of exhausting field work. In this lesson, students learn about and journal on enslaved African American work songs, and then analyze the lyrics and structure of the work song "Shuck That Corn Before You Eat."
Colonial Williamsburg offers a variety of quality American history instructional materials, including:
- Ear to Ear CD-ROM
- Stories Under African Skies
- Slave Bag Hands-on History Kit
- Slavery in Colonial America Lesson Unit
Quotation of the Month
"Slaves sing most when they are most unhappy. The songs of the slave represent the sorrows of his heart; and he is relieved by them, only as an aching heart is relieved by its tears."
— Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Chapter 2. London: H. G. Collins, 1851. pg. 20.
Colonial Williamsburg for Teachers
21st Century Award
for Best Practices in Distance Learning,
United States Distance Learning Association, 2010
Distinguished Achievement Award Finalist 2011
Association of Educational Publishers
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