WHSP Publishes Handbook for Teaching Civil Rights History

Check out this release from the Wisconsin Historical Society Press:

New Handbook Provides Civil Rights Teaching Tools

Tools for Teaching the History of Civil Rights in Milwaukee and the NationAs Civil Rights issues make headlines nationwide, the Wisconsin Historical Society Press and the Wisconsin Historical Society’s Library-Archives have teamed up to help educators give students background about the history of the  Civil Rights movement.

Tools for Teaching the History of Civil Rights in Milwaukee and the Nation is a user-friendly handbook focusing on Civil Rights history. It covers desegregation and voter registration efforts in the South, civil rights battles in Milwaukee where leaders like Vel Phillips andFather James Groppi fought for fair housing and school desegregation, and turning points such as the 1954 Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision and the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

Each of the handbook’s twenty lessons includes background information, facsimiles of historical documents and thoughtful classroom activities designed to spark critical thinking.

“We created this book to help teach middle and high school students about one of our nation’s most dynamic social movements, the Civil Rights Movement, in Milwaukee and the South,” explains the book’s editor Michael Edmonds, Deputy Director of Library-Archives for the Wisconsin Historical Society. Edmonds is also editor of the Society Press’s  book Risking Everything: A Freedom Summer Reader, a sampling of the thousands of original documents in the Society’s  nationally renowned civil rights archives.


The handbook is divided into three sections, including:

1. Milwaukee’s Civil Rights Movement: on such topics as the fair housing fight, young people in the Milwaukee movement, and Milwaukee school busing debates,

2. Civil Rights Movement in the South: on such topics as segregation in Mississippi in the 1950s-1960s, arguments for and against Civil Rights Movement, and the power of Freedom Schools, and

3. Pivotal Events and Issues in Civil Rights History: on such topics as Brown vs. Board of Education, Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Civil Disobedience.

Through each lesson and its follow-up discussion questions, “We hope students will learn to connect their own lives and current events, today with the people who fought for civil rights 50 years ago,” Edmonds adds.

Lesson plans were created by Edmonds and the Society’s Freedom Summer project staff. The handbook was produced thanks to funding from The Jane Bradley Pettit Foundation, the Herzfeld Foundation, the Northwestern Mutual Foundation, C.G. Schmidt, and the Weyco Charitable Trust.

More information about the book is available from Kristin Gilpatrick, Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 816 State St., Madison, WI 53706; 608-264-6465; email: kristin.gilpatrick@wisconsinhistory.org.


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