Student Activity

The Battle Over Reconstruction: Southern Recovery

Detail from Reconstruction interactive
Photo caption

Detail from Reconstruction interactive.

Beyond the obvious material destruction, there was more to reconstruct in the South than buildings, farms, manufacturing and railroads—there were social and political relationships to rebuild. Yet, it is impossible to understand Reconstruction fully without a grasp of the social and economic upheaval the war brought with it. For the people living through the times, this upheaval created a situation that demanded immediate attention.

Reconstruction is an interactive set of maps exploring the pre- and post-war South, focusing on social and economic structures and systems and how they were affected by the war.

Explore the Reconstruction era in greater depth with the following resources:

  • Facing History: The Reconstruction Era Video Series: A set of seven videos (10-15 minutes each) offers a narrative of the Reconstruction era and an exploration of why its history remains so contested to this day.
  • PBS: Reconstruction: America after the Civil War: While this documentary series may be too long to assign to students, PBS has produced shorter clips and activities to use segments of the documentary in the classroom.
  • Primary Source: W.E.B. Du Bois's "Chronology of Reconstruction" (ca. 1935): Used as Du Bois was working on arguably his most important work, Black Reconstruction in America, this chronology highlights important events during the Reconstruction era.
    • Select an event from this timeline, preferably one with which you are not familiar, and research it in greater detail. Why do you think Du Bois included it on his chronology?

The following EDSITEment resources also address the Reconstruction period:

  • Teacher's Guide: The Reconstruction Era: A compilation of resources for teaching about Reconstruction, including a robust set of guiding questions to focus student inquiry, as well as collections of primary sources with which to address them.
  • Curriculum: The Battle Over Reconstruction (grades 9-12): A set of three lessons moving from the immediate aftermath of the Civil War to the aftermath of Reconstruction itself.