Screen Schooled by Margaret Crocco

Joe Clement and Matt Miles, Screen Schooled, by Margaret Crocco

http://connected.socialstudies.org/cufa/blogs/margaret-crocco/2017/12/19/screen-schooled
Screen Schooled

I’m one of the “digital immigrants” who came to the use of computers late in life, that is, as a New Jersey high school history teacher back in the digital “dark ages” of the 1980s. Perhaps you remember the Apple IIE? The first Apple Macintosh?  Oregon Trail software? During these long-ago years, a fellow history teacher (Neale McGoldrick) and I collaborated on using “desk-top publishing” software to produce historical newspapers with our students and created an historical monograph on women’s suffrage that was distributed to schools and libraries in the state (Reclaiming Lost Ground: The Struggle for Women’s Suffrage in New Jersey, New Jersey Historical Commission, 1993). We were enthusiastic about what educational technology was making possible in our classrooms.

Thus, when the federal government provided funding to teacher education institutions over a decade later, under the auspices of its Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology grant program, I signed up to explore the possibilities, what we call today the “affordances,” of teaching with technology for our master’s degree students in the Program in Social Studies at Teachers College, Columbia University. In 2000, the USDOE provided $48 million for close to 100 grants “to address the challenge of developing technology proficient future educators,” according to archived materials at the PT3 website (http://www.ed.gov/teachtech/). This investment in moving technology into schools rapidly became only a drop in the bucket of what has been spent since 2000 in promoting educational technology by both public agencies and private vendors.

Lots of us got onboard the technology train, hoping to find some “value added” in using technology to teach our subject matter. To be sure, we have found quite a few benefits. For example, anyone who remembers hunting in libraries for primary sources, the ability today to construct a “document-based question” by using an online database from the Library of Congress or National Archives is nothing short of miraculous. The educational research accumulated in the CITE Journal (www.citejournal.org) is only a fraction of the work that has been done chronicling the impact of technology use on the teaching of school subject matter and on teacher education.

So, let’s be clear that neither I nor the authors of the book I want to call to your attention are Luddites. Nevertheless, claims such as the opening line in a USDOE “Dear Colleague” letter dated January 18, 2017 that asserts: “Technology can help transform learning when used with innovative instructional approaches” leaves a lot unsaid and more unsubstantiated. Even if one thinks that the use of educational technology might be a powerful lever for enacting student-centered, inquiry-oriented pedagogy (something that remains in short supply in many social studies classrooms), the promise of ed-tech in improving student learning is increasingly looking like a lot of hype. Moreover, we are coming to see that the cumulative effects of so much screen time on today’s youth may be jeopardizing the health and well-being of the “iGen” “— that is, kids born after 1995— (Twenge, 2017), both inside and outside the classroom.

In a fascinating – and troubling – new book, Screen Schooled: Two Veteran Teachers Expose How Technology Overuse is Making Our Kids Dumber, Joe Clement and Matt Miles (Chicago Review Press, 2018) perform a public service in calling teachers’ and parents’ attention to the hype of the ed-tech industry (and, I would add, their cheerleaders in policy circle) and its promotion of ever more technology use in schools. Assembling extensive research on the effects of screen-time on young people’s brains and drawing upon their own insights from years of teaching, the book serves as an indictment of the notion that the best way to teach “digital natives” is to infuse more educational technology into schools.

Here are just a few examples of the alarming research they present:

  • A study that found that children who have more than “one to two hours per day of screen time show a 50 percent increase in psychological disorders” (p. 149);
  • A study showing that “a person’s ability to develop friendships is biologically diminished the more he or she replaces face-to-face human interaction with screen interaction” (p. 150);
  • A study that showed that “the heavy use of screens causes young people to lose the ability to understand the emotions of other people” (p. 151);
  • A study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics that “found that people who spend more time playing video games have more attention problems” (p. 178);
  • A study that showed that computer technology is associated with “statistically significant and persistently negative impacts on student math and reading test scores” (p. 184).In the introduction to Screen Schooled, Clement and Miles start out by offering their “street cred” in authoring this book. As they write: “While we are teachers, we are neither curmudgeonly, angry, or anti-technology…. As far as our comfort with technology, I (Joe) was a UNIX system administrator before becoming a teacher. Matt was an IT major in college before a last-minute switch to education” (p. viii).  Nevertheless, they’ve watched schooling change over the last couple of decades to the point where “teachers are encouraged to use laptops and iPads in every class. Instead of introducing education through educational software, teachers are now struggling to cram education into the technology.” They rightly ask: “Is this what is best for students?” “Should we do this? Ed tech-firms, with their large marketing budgets, have convinced parents and educators alike that their products are necessary for future student success” (p. ix). The book aims to question this assumption, and to argue instead that the push for technology use in schools is undermining not supporting the aims of high quality education.In 10 highly readable chapters, the authors take a sober look at “kids today” and the “myth of the technology-enhanced superkid”, the impact of social media in raising anxiety, the need for parental support in setting limits on technology, and the contribution of technology to the achievement gap. Throughout the book, the authors address the effects of technology on social-emotional functioning as well as cognition and intellectual development. Children, even toddlers, who spend hours staring at screens lose capacity for using the imagination or problem solving, which are key to critical thinking.Finally, let’s be clear that powerful inducements exist for schools to jump onboard the technology train. The ed-tech industry has numerous inducements (free iPads, anyone?), which are especially attractive to school districts burdened with shrinking budgets. The marketing firepower of the ed-tech industry is masterful in creating a sense of “needs” in place of “wants” that, like all advertising, drive parental anxieties about getting that toddler into an Ivy League school down the road. In several places, the authors use phrases such as “tech addiction” to focus the reader’s attention on how ed-tech products are engineered to create dependencies. Thus, it’s no surprise at the end of the book that the authors compare the marketing by ed-tech companies to that of tobacco companies.
  • At the end of each chapter, the authors provide “takeaways” for parents, teachers, and students with practical suggestions for addressing the issues raised in each chapter. For example, at the end of the chapter entitled “The Education-Industrial Complex,” they cite the recommendation for a “screen fast” of Dr. Victoria Dunckley, whose book Reset Your Child’s Brain encourages a time-out from technology in order to let children “get their brains back on track” (p. 205). They advocate alliances with parent-teacher organizations to push for sensible policies regarding the use – and over-use – of ed-tech tools in classrooms. The authors cite lots of research along the way, such as the well-known contributions of Sherry Turkle (Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age and Alone Together), who have been sounding alarms for years, but write in a way that knits together personal experience with this research to make a highly readable case for the need to bring a more critical perspective to the place of ed-tech in schools.
  • Of course, what’s fueling the push to infuse technology into schools is the huge opportunity for making money. Whether it’s Amazon, Google, Microsoft or one of the hundreds of other lesser known companies seeking a share of this market, the opportunities are legion. The authors confirm their love for capitalism and profit, but return again and again to their basic message—that is, the negative impact of the seductive hype and aggressive promotion of ed-tech in schools. They write: “we need to think hard about profits earned by selling schools products that make it harder to learn” (p. 192). They insist that the lack of scientific evidence behind either the notion that the way students learn is changing or that learning via digital technology is superior to non-technology assisted ways (p. 193) needs to inform future decision-making about spending public dollars on education.
  • As teachers who have seen their students’ ability to interact with others, contribute to classroom discussion, and focus on learning, Clement and Miles call educators’ and parents’ attention to the Trojan Horse nature of what they refer to in their second-to-last chapter as the “education-industrial complex” (p. 187), along with its sly inducements such as the pitch for “personalization of learning”. The authors echo the concerns raised by writers such as Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, who documents in her book that the “the iGen are “super-connected” but “less happy,” and the findings of researchers such as Kirschner and DeBryckere (2017), who title their recent piece in Teaching and Teacher Education, “The myths of the digital native and the multitasker”.

One can only hope that books such as Screen Schooled and efforts such as #Show the Evidence (https://www.the74million.org/article/showtheevidence-building-a-movement-around-research-impact-in-edtech) will eventually result in raising many more hard questions about the impact of digital technology on today’s youth. The authors are on the right track in providing answers that rest on the accumulation of solid, scientific research and teachers’ own classroom experiences, rather than from the companies eager to sell these products to schools and parents. This effort won’t derail the train, but it might slow it down so that it navigates the curves ahead more safely for all concerned.

Teachers Comment on Screened Schools by Clement and Miles

Nicole Waid, SUNY Oneonta: As new technologies emerge, there is a debate about whether infusing technology into instruction improves or distracts from classroom learning. Teachers sometimes shy away from new technologies because they do not know how to use them so they do not explore ways that they could utilize them in the classroom to enhance student learning. With proper training for pre-service and veteran teachers on how to integrate emerging technology into their lessons technology can invigorate instruction. Social Studies teachers typically like to talk about content and spend a lot of their class time lecturing. Some teachers ask students to write DBQs at home after hearing classroom instruction. This traditional model of learning might not be the most effective way of meeting the students’ needs. Students could listen to micro-lectures created by the teacher using a program like Screencast-o-Matic at home and answer questions on the essential points of the lecture without teacher support. Social Studies teachers who uses this model will take time in class to briefly review the main ideas of the lecture; then they can use a majority of their class time doing activities that require higher-order thinking skills such as document analysis or other activities that require an application of knowledge. The benefit of the flipped classroom model is that the teacher is available to offer support to students when completing challenging assignments rather than having students do the work independently at home with no assistance. When the flipped classroom model is used correctly, the students go from passively using lower order thinking skills taking notes in class to applying higher order thinking skills in the classroom. This model does not have to implement every day, but it could be used a couple of days a week to allow for activities that require more support and more critical thinking.

Olivia LaRocca, Syosset High School: A generation is growing up over-exposed to digital technology. In the classroom we see students who become agitated if they do not have easy access to their cell phones. As soon as the bell rings to end a class, they rush to get the latest updates on social media. I find it challenging to teach students who become so accustomed to instantaneous gratification. Digital natives have difficulty in understanding and disseminating new information because they fail to recognize its importance unless they receive it via twitter. I do use technology in the classroom for illustration, but fundamentally I want my students to be related to me and to each other, not to some electronic device.

Megan Bernth, Bellmore-Merrick School District: Everyone entering the teaching profession today receives at least some instruction in the uses of classroom technology, and usually more than just “some.” It has become impossible to navigate school without confronting new and newer digital technologies. But just because digital technologies are everywhere does not mean they are beneficial to learning. Too often technology-based assignments are gimmicky, and can be completed in more meaningful ways without using the latest technology. The best way to show what you learned about Thomas Jefferson is probably not to create a Thomas Jefferson Facebook page. When I was in middle school, back in the earlier days of technology, we received Mac laptops to use during the school year. Theoretically the computers had software that would allow our teachers to monitor what we were doing and would prevent us from going off-task. In reality, this software was seldom used and many of my classmates spent learning time playing video games and messaging their friends. Eventually some of the teachers refused to allow students to use the laptops in class.

Nabila Khan, Deer Park High School: As teachers, we confront a new generation of students who are “digital learners” and “native digitals.” Parents and teachers too frequently assume that using technology will make students smarter and more accomplished multitaskers. The danger is that other aspects of intelligence, when not used, will atrophy. I use PowerPoint, videos, and online simulations in my classroom. They offer new opportunities for “hands-on” learning and modifications for students who have different learning needs. I am just concerned that students become dependent on excessive technology; we are in essence creating new learning disabilities. I also witness too many students lost in digital fantasy worlds or buried in their cell phones. The cell phones definitely do not belong in the classroom.

Ashley Balgobind, Half Hallow Hills East High School: I use technology to illustrate points, mostly brief videos and animations. I plan occasional webquests where students search for information using prescribed links. During these lessons I have witnessed how some students ended up being distracted by the technology. Technology in the classroom can be a positive, but too much is definitely too much. Unfortunately, there has been such a big push to include educational technology in school instruction without evidence that it benefits student performance. The biggest beneficiaries of the switch to technology are the tech companies that sell the software.

Carrie Hou, Hofstra University: Digital technology is just the latest evolution in human communication, although it does bring a series of new problems hat need to be resolved. Instead of searching and thinking, students simply Google, meaning Google gets to decide what is important to know and even what to think about things. A big part of the problem is that teachers and parents are just as addicted to digital technology as the students. Teachers cannot be the police force of the digital world, not if parents permit children unlimited access digital technology when they are outside of school. Personally, I like to use technology to teach and learn. As we figure out how to more effectively utilize it in the classroom, it can become the teacher’s best friend.

Arwa Alhumaidan, Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Screens are a ubiquitous part of people’s lives. There is an addictive quality to them. Children watch screens while eating breakfast and in the car or bus on the way to school. Unfortunately, watching is sedentary, which is a problem, especially for younger children, who need more kinetic activity and socializing. We are establishing patterns of behavior that will place health at-risk as digital addicts move into adulthood and then middle age.

Steve Rosino, Whitestone Academy, Queens, NY: Students are having a hard time tuning things out that are not social media related. I teach students that it is important once in a while to turn everything off and just breathe in deeply and meditate. Downtime is essential if students are going to do their best work. Too often multi-tasking means no tasking at all.

New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee

Alan Singer, New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee, by Mary Liz Stewart

New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee: Essays on Slavery, Resistance, Abolition, Teaching, and Historical Memory – Alan J, Singer, PhD, State University of New York Press, Albany, NY, 2018
Grand Emancipation Jubilee

“Battles over how we understand the past help define who we are in the present and the possibilities for our future” (162).

This foundational principle ties together the essay topic choices and their content in Alan Singer’s newest book New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee published in May 2018 by SUNY Press. This sequel to New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth, published by SUNY Press in 2008, is an engaging, hard to put down collection of essays that had a previous life as panel and workshop presentations and as articles prepared for academic journals. Revised and collected together in one volume, they offer an eye-opening, critical examination of slavery, resistance, abolition, emancipation, race and public memory from a New York City and State perspective that is applicable to the entire nation. While re-examining the past, Singer seamlessly weaves throughout his discourse the challenge of what do we do with this new knowledge, how do we use it to better understand who we are today, both as individuals and as communities, and as a nation, and how will we use this knowledge to move forward into the future to be a more just society.

Alan Singer received his Masters and Doctoral degrees from Rutgers University and is currently Professor of Secondary Education in the School of Education at Hofstra University. Beginning his educational career in a high school social studies classroom, Alan lets his ‘on the ground’ classroom experiences inform his writing of his valuable and provocative reflections on race, slavery, and American history.

Alan’s review of relevant literature coupled with his own research offers the reader a substantially documented examination of his thesis. Berlin, McManus, Aptheker, Foner, Still, Greeley, and many other greats referenced by Singer provide the reader with a rich selection of over 300 sources for further investigation. An incredibly detailed index complements the resource section and makes this text remarkably searchable. Inclusion of Teaching Notes in each chapter offers models of pertinent, thought provoking questions and related primary document text for both classroom and public conversation use.

However, Grand Emancipation Jubilee does leave room for some additional interpretations not offered in the text. For instance, in Chapter 4, ‘Narratives of Slavery and Escape: The Importance of Solomon Northup’, offers a summary of Northup’s narrative which helps the reader have an understanding of the content of Northup’s story. However, the significance of Northup’s narrative as compared to narratives written by others who were enslaved fails to offer for consideration the purpose of the publication of many other narratives of the antebellum period which was to raise money for the author and persuade readers to join the cause of abolition. Not wanting to discount the impact of Northup’s narrative, it must be admitted that other narratives that drew on the heart strings of the reader to generate an emotional response to the brutal treatment imposed upon people who were enslaved was an effective tool to sell books and motivate people to support, if not actively engage in, efforts to abolish the institution of slavery. As well, Northup came to the condition of enslavement as a kidnapped free man who had a family and business experiences that informed how he interacted with and recorded in his narrative the conditions under which he was enslaved.

Chapters 3 and 9, ‘Abolition in the Margins’ and ‘Abolition: From Marginalization to Emancipation’ respectively, fail to consider the civil rights work of Black abolitionists, also referenced as rights of full citizenship, as having an influence on the capacity of Black abolitionists to hammer away at anti-slavery work. As research into documents recounting the life and work of Black abolitionist Stephen Myers, it is clear that the racist perspective of even white abolitionists distracted the energies of the Black abolitionists from devoting all their efforts to anti-slavery work. Black abolitionists were not only fighting the institution of slavery, they were also fighting the discriminatory practices directed at them. For example, while Stephen Myers was engaged in his Underground Railroad activism, he was also engaged in planning and sometimes speaking at Colored Men’s Conventions. He also organized the Florence Farming and Lumber Association which was an economic development plan whereby African Americans could purchase small plots of land in the town of Florence and collaboratively farm the land and cut the lumber for personal use and for sale, he filed a lawsuit against the Albany City Public School District to desegregate the schools, he was an active member of the New York State Suffrage Association and of the American League of Colored Laborers. While engaged in these civil rights efforts he wrote for abolition newspapers and was employed at various jobs that provided financial support to his family. While these considerations, if included in chapters 3 and 9, would certainly enhance the understanding of why Black abolitionists were not as effective and speedy in achieving their goals as might have been desired, Singer is quite clear in explaining that factors external to the work of the abolitionists held significant sway in the rolling out of this history. Taken as a whole, though, one must credit Alan Singer with doing an incredible job throughout the eleven chapters helping the reader understand the numerous fractious forces that affected the impact of the abolitionists’ work.

Chapter 2, ‘Resistance! Resistance! Resistance! New York’s Black Abolitionists and the Coming of the Civil War’ is a breath of fresh air in reference to the standard Underground Railroad canon. The highlight of this chapter is the emphasis on Black activism, which so often gets overwhelmed by the historians’ focus on the ideological debates of white abolitionists. The voices of Black abolitionists repeatedly call not only for the abolition of the institution of slavery, but also call for the rights of full citizenship. According to Singer, “…it was black activism, much of which was centered in New York State, that moved the challenge to slavery from the margins to the center of political debate” (30). Recoverable documents detailing the ideology of and activities engaged in by Black abolitionists have been making their way into public discourse and changing the Underground Railroad narrative. The lack of a homogenous response on the part of Black abolitionists gives evidence of free thinking individuals who ran the gamut from supporting an aggressive, “immediatist” response to the institution of slavery to a more conservative focus on the provision of assistance to freedom seekers. As the Black abolitionists had more to risk than their white counterparts, due to laws of the day and the imposition of discriminatory practices and the racist sentiments of many New Yorkers, the work of Black abolitionists becomes even more inspiring. It was Black abolitionists such as Stephen Myers and Peter Williams working in concert with others who forced the demise of the colonization movement. It was Black abolitionists such as Henry Highland Garnet and David Walker who advocated for the enslaved to take up arms against enslavers. It was Black abolitionists such as Louis Napolean and David Ruggles who openly opposed the 1793 and 1850 Federal Fugitive Slave Law. However, in the midst of the recovery of this important information, there is a desperate need to uncover the work of Black women in the abolitionist movement, especially women who were New York State residents, as their stories are few and light of content.

Kudos to Alan Singer for capturing these great essays in one volume and making them a community resource. New York’s Grand Emancipation Jubilee is a must read for formal and informal educators, high school and college students, and the adult general public. While it is not the final word on slavery, resistance, abolition, emancipation, race and public memory, as research on many fronts continues to add to the understanding of this significant episode in American history, it is, without a doubt, a major contribution to understanding where we, as a nation, have come from so that we may better understand where we are today and where we can go tomorrow.

Teaching About the Spanish Civil War: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Teaching about the Spanish Civil War: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Thomas Masterson, Hofstra University

This is an interdisciplinary unit on the Spanish Civil War and Americans who enlisted in what they believed was a fight to stop the expansion of fascism in Europe. The unit opens with a lesson summarizing the key points about the war and the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. This lesson serves to introduce students to the major themes that will be focused on throughout the whole unit. In this lesson, students read an overview of the war written by the Abraham Lincoln Brigades Archive (ALBA). According to ALBA’s website, “the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives is an educational non-profit dedicated to promoting social activism and the defense of human rights. ALBA’s work is inspired by the American volunteers of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade who fought fascism in the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Drawing on the ALBA collections in New York University’s Tamiment Library, and working to expand such collections, ALBA works to preserve the legacy of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade as an inspiration for present and future generations.” (http://www.alba-valb.org/about-us/)

The second lesson expands on this focus on theme and has students read a New  York Times article from the 1980s that reflects on the choice these Americans made to go and fight in Spain. The article emphasizes the motivation that stimulated their involvement. Students are asked to reflect in a brief journal-writing task on how they feel about this situation and how they believe they would have responded if they were a young American during this time. Themes such as “fighting for the greater good ” and “selflessness” emerge through this reading and exercise.

The third and fourth lessons introduce students to two examples of the Spanish Civil War in literature. First, students read a brief excerpt from George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia and work in pairs on a close-reading exercise, again expanding on the thematic focus from earlier lessons. Then, as a class, W.H. Auden’s poem “Spain” is read and discussed. This lesson will focus on the appeal-to-emotion nature of poetry and ask students to reflect, once again, on the reality of what this war meant to young Americans (and global citizens) at the time.

Additionally, there are several lessons focused on different art produced during the war. First is a class listening of the song “Viva La Quince Brigada,” a song sung by the Spanish Republican troops during the war. Students listen to the song being performed and answer a series of questions about the lyrics and tone of the song. Second is a lesson on Pablo Picasso’s painting “Guernica.” Students are given a handout with the full painting as well as a chart outlining the eight major figures in the picture. Using this resource, students write a short response focusing on two of these central figures that they are free to choose.

Students  will also be shown the photography of Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, who become internationally recognized from their brutal photographs depicting the horrors of the Spanish Civil War. This handout can be used to initiate a class discussion or be used for a short writing exercise similar to the Picasso lesson.

Finally, these introductory lessons lead into a class reading of Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls. Lessons throughout this reading unit frequently tie into the main themes and have students connect their reading of the novel to their reflections from the start of the unit. Primary and secondary sources from the period can be brought in throughout the reading to supplement the text. The first lesson on the book asks students to read and interpret the John Donne quote used as the novel’s epigraph.

The final assignment is a longer writing task where students have three choices for a final submission. They have the option of writing a letter home from the perspective of an American soldier in Spain, a journal entry from the perspective of Robert Jordan (the main character in Hemingway’s novel), or a thematic essay in which they define two major themes of the novel and explore representation in the book.

A) The Abraham Lincoln Brigade and the Spanish Civil War  Sourced and Edited from the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (ALBA) athttp://www.alba-valb.org/history/spanish-civil-war

     The Spanish Civil War broke out in July 1936, after conservative military officials tried to overthrow a progressive government elected that February. The rebels were surprised to encounter massive popular resistance, especially in large urban centers. Within days the country was split in half, one zone controlled by the government (known as Republicans, Loyalists, or Reds) and the other by the rebels (also referred to as Nationalists, Fascists, or Whites). Three years of bloody fighting followed. General Francisco Franco quickly emerged as the Nationalist commander-in-chief. The main leaders on the Republican side were President Azaña and Prime Ministers Largo Caballero and Negrín. The war ended with a Nationalist victory in April 1939. Franco would rule Spain as a ruthless dictator until his death in 1975.The war quickly became internationalized. Global public opinion rallied around one of the two factions, seeing the war as either a struggle of democracy against fascism or, conversely, of Christian civilization against Communism. Fearful of escalation, several Western governments signed a Non-Intervention Pact. Franco immediately requested and received extensive military support from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy. The Republic was supported by the USSR and, to a smaller extent, by Mexico.Other Western powers refused to stand by the embattled Republic, not even allowing it to buy arms on the international market. Nevertheless, thousands of concerned citizens from some fifty nations, ignoring their own governments’ purported neutrality and rallied to the Republic’s support. Almost forty thousand men and women, including 2,800 Americans, traveled to Spain to help fight fascism. Most of them joined the International Brigades, organized in 1936 by the Communist International. The U.S. volunteers in Spain formed several battalions and served in various units (medical, transportation) and came to be known collectively as the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.For all its international repercussions, the war’s root causes were domestic. Political and social tensions had been building up in Spain for years. Still predominantly an agrarian society with limited industrial centers, the country was rife with inequalities. In the countryside, traditional divisions endured between wealthy landowners, doggedly preserving their position, and a huge number of landless laborers and poverty-stricken smallholders, desperate to lift themselves from an existence of near-starvation. The situation of the urban working class was equally dismal. Illiteracy rates were high. The government that came to power after the proclamation of the Republic in 1931 embarked on an ambitious program of modernization, secularization, social justice, and greater regional autonomy, with the support of the liberal middle classes, the Socialist and Communist parties and unions, the regionalist parties, as well as the powerful Anarchist movement. It met with strong resistance from the landowners, the army, and the Catholic Church. These same three groups, together with the small but powerful fascist party (Falange), formed the backbone of the Nationalists.The Spanish Civil War claimed an estimated 500,000 dead; of the American volunteers about one third died in Spain. Many of the remaining veterans continued their fight against fascism during World War II, as did thousands of Republican exiles. With their help, fascism was finally defeated in 1945. Ironically, the outbreak of the Cold War helped secure Franco’s position as Spain’s anti-Communist dictator. When, after his death in 1975, Spain finally became a democracy, the Spanish government made honorary citizens of the international volunteers. Many of them remained life-long activists. The aging Lincoln Vets have lent their support to progressive causes of all kinds, from the Civil Rights movement to the protests against the wars in Vietnam and Iraq.

Questions·        

  1. What were the names of the two groups at odds with each other during the Spanish Civil War?·        
  2. Who was the leader of the fascists?·        
  3. How many people died in the war, and how many of these were American volunteers?·        
  4. Paragraph 4 refers to “international repercussions.” In your own words, what does this phrase mean?·        
  5. Using the information in the article and your own opinion, why do you think other Western countries refused to get involved in the Spanish Civil War?

(B) Excerpts from “They Fought in Spain: Now the Cause is Redeemed”Originally published in the New York Times on Nov. 4, 1982 by Ari Goodman

“Once they were fighters, men who tried to stop fascism in Spain with guns and grenades. Today, more than 40 years later, Americans who volunteered in the Loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War are watching proudly as a Socialist government is coming to power in that country.”“In the 1936 Spanish elections, the Socialists emerged as a leading element in the governing Popular Front. Within months of their victory, however, a group of generals led by Francisco Franco marched on major cities and the civil war began.”“Franco won the war and ruled until his death in 1975… ‘Franco is now on the garbage heap of history,’… Some 3,300 Americans, acting without blessings of their own Government, went to fight in the Spanish Civil War; only 1,800 came home alive.” “‘The Spanish Civil War’ pitted right against wrong,’ said the 69-year-old Mr. Steck, ‘and it was very clear where the right was and where the wrong was.’ ‘I went to Spain because as a Jew and as a radical of my time I hated fascism,’ Mr. Fishman said. ‘This was a chance to do something about it.’”“‘If we didn’t stop fascism in Spain, we’d have to stop it closer to home. We still think if we could have stopped Hitler and Mussolini in Spain, we might have avoided World War II.’”“‘It was your whole life that made you go,” said Mr. Steck, who grew up in the Midwest and at the age of 6 was taken to hear Eugene V. Debs, the American Socialist.”Questions·         Before the outbreak of the war, what political movement was becoming more prominent in Spain?·         What two foreign leaders aided Franco in the Spanish Civil War?

They Fought in Spain: Now the Cause is Redeemed” Journaling Response 

Directions: Write a journal response (No more than 1-2 pages double-spaced) to the New York Times article about Americans that fought in the Spanish Civil War. Focus on your views about what motivated these people to go fight in a foreign war. How would you describe these people? How would you react if your best friend told you they wanted to do something like this? Could you see yourself going and doing what they did as well? What are some key parts of the article that stood out to you?Keep in mind some of the important historical context we learned about regarding the socialists, the fascists, and what the outcome of the war was. Also, keep in mind what year this article was written and published in.

(C) Excerpts from W. H. Auden’s “Spain” Background: W.H. Auden, also known as Wystan Hugh Auden, was a poet, author and playwright born in York, England, on February  21, 1907. Auden’s travels in countries torn by political strife influenced his early works. Auden visited Spain in 1937 in the middle of the Spanish Civil War and wrote this poem upon his return home. It was originally published in 1940.

Yesterday all the past. The language of sizeSpreading to China along the trade-routes; the diffusionOf the counting-frame and the cromlech [stone tomb]; Yesterday the shadow-reckoning in the sunny climates . . .Yesterday the abolition of fairies and giants, the fortress like a motionless eagle eyeing the valley, the chapel built in the forest; Yesterday the carving of angels and alarming gargoyles; The trial of heretics among the columns of stone;  Yesterday the theological feuds in the tavernsAnd the miraculous cure at the fountain; Yesterday the Sabbath of witches; but to-day the struggle.Yesterday the installation of dynamos and turbines, The construction of railways in the colonial desert;Yesterday the classic lecture On the origin of Mankind. But to-day the struggle . . .To-morrow for the young the poets exploding like bombs,The walks by the lake, the weeks of perfect communion; To-morrow the bicycle racesThrough the suburbs on summer evenings. But to-day the struggle. To-day the deliberate increase in the chances of death,The conscious acceptance of guilt in the necessary murder; To-day the expending of powersOn the flat ephemeral pamphlet and the boring meeting. To-day the makeshift consolations: the shared cigarette,The cards in the candlelit barn, and the scraping concert, The masculine jokes; to-day theFumbled and unsatisfactory embrace before hurting.The stars are dead. The animals will not look. We are left alone with our day, and the time is short, andHistory to the defeated May say Alas but cannot help nor pardon. 

Questions·        

  1. “Yesterday” was “abolition of fairies and giants,” “theological feuds in the taverns” and “classic lecture.”
  2. What is Auden saying about “Yesterday”?·        
  3. What will “Tomorrow” be like according to Auden?·        
  4. What does Auden believe defines “today”?·        
  5. In your opinion, is this a hopeful poem? Defend your reasoning using evidence from the text.

(D) ¡Viva la Quince Brigada! Performed by Pete Seeger in Barcelona, 1993 Translated from Spanish

Background: This was one of the songs sung by members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and other international volunteers during the Spanish Civil War. When the international forces say they will “fight against the Moors,” they are referring to General Francisco Franco’s “Army of Africa” which included soldiers from Spain’s colony in Morocco. Franco used these troops in fascist campaigns to defeat the Spanish Republic.Songs of the Spanish Civil War rekindles the hymnal of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, honoring the more than 2,600 American volunteers who fought General Francisco Franco and his fellow fascists from Italy and Nazi Germany to defend the popularly elected Spanish Republic during the 1936-1939 conflict. Featuring Pete Seeger, Tom Glazer, Butch and Bess Hawes, Woody Guthrie, Ernst Busch, and Bart van der Schelling, these songs still inspire supporters of democratic causes around the world. – ALBA

Long live the Fifteenth Brigade, Rumba la rumba la rumba la! Long live the Fifteenth Brigade, Rumba la rumba la rumba la!It will cover us with glory, Ay Carmela, ay Carmela! It will cover us with glory, Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!We fight against the Moors, Rumba la rumba la rumba la; We fight against the Moors, Rumba la rumba la rumba la,Mercenaries and fascists, Ay Carmela, ay Carmela! Mercenaries and fascists, Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!Our only desire, Rumba la rumba la rumba la! Our only desire, Rumba la rumba la rumba la!Is to end fascism! Ay Carmela, ay Carmela! Is to end fascism! Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!On the Jarama front, Rumba la rumba la rumba la! On the Jarama front, Rumba la rumba la rumba la!We don’t have airplanes, nor tanks, nor cannon, Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!We don’t have airplanes, nor tanks, nor cannon, Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!We’re now leaving Spain, Rumba la rumba la rumba la! We’re now leaving Spain, Rumba la rumba la rumba la!We shall fight on other fronts, Ay Carmela, ay Carmela! We shall fight on other fronts, Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!Questions·         How would you describe the tone of the song after hearing it performed and reading the lyrics in English?·         How do you interpret the ending of the song? What “other fronts” do you think the original songwriters were referring to?

(E) Pablo Picasso’s Guernica (1937)

Background: Guernica is a mural-sized oil painting on canvas by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. It was completed in June 1937 while he was living in Paris. It is over 11 feet high and 25 feet wide. Picasso painted the mural in response to the April bombing of the Basque village of Guernica in northern Spain by German and Italian warplanes in support of Spanish fascist forces. The village had no military significance. The bombing foreshadowed German attacks on civilian populations during World War II.

Directions: Choose two of the central figures of the painting outlined on the following page and write a paragraph explaining your interpretation of their inclusion in the piece. Explain what you believe Picasso was trying to convey through these images, and why you think the sections you chose are perhaps the most striking.

 (F) Movies about The Spanish Civil War Scenes from these movies can be used to help students envision conflicts during the Spanish Civil War.

“For Whom the Bell Tolls” directed by Sam Wood, 1943. In this adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s popular novel, idealistic American Robert Jordan (Gary Cooper) travels to Spain to join the guerrilla forces opposing dictator Francisco Franco. Jordan, who is given the dangerous task of blowing up a bridge that lies behind enemy lines, gets sidetracked when he falls for partisan Spanish girl María (Ingrid Bergman) at base camp. As Jordan’s love for María grows, he begins to question his assignment, his politics and his place in this foreign war.

(G) Robert Capa and Gerda Taro Photograph the Spanish Civil War 

Robert Capa (Endre Friedmann) was a Hungarian-Jewish war photographer and photojournalist. He photographed the Spanish Civil War, the Sino-Japanese War, World War II in Europe, and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Capa died in 1954 while covering the first Indochina War. Some consider Capa the greatest combat photographer in history. In 1947 he was awarded the United States Medal of Freedom by General Dwight Eisenhower. Gerda Taro (Gerta Pohorylle), a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany, was Capa’s professional partner and companion. She was a major photographer in her own right. She died in 1937 while photographing the Spanish Civil War at the Battle of Brunete. She was only 27 years old. Taro is remembered as the first female photojournalist to photograph front line battles during war.

Robert Capa: Farewell ceremony for the International Brigades. Les Masies, Spain. October 25, 1938
Robert Capa: Republican militiaman, Federico Borrell Garcia, at the moment of death, Cerro Muriano, Cordoba front, Spain. September 5, 1936.
Robert Capa: Crowds running for shelter after an air-raid alarm sounded, Bilbao, Spain, May 1937
Gerda Taro: Pro-Republican workers in a munitions factory in Madrid, June 1937.
Questions·        
Describe the scene in each photograph·        
In your opinion, were Capa and Taro as photojournalists important
contributors to the defense of the Spanish Republic? Explain.

(H) Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell (1938). Excerpt from Chapter One

Background: George Orwell (1903-1950) was a British novelist, essayist, journalist, and political critic. He is best known for his philosophical and dystopian literature, such as 1984 and Animal Farm. Homage to Catalonia was written as a memoir recounting his experiences fighting in the Spanish Civil War as part of the International Brigades.

A. There were no private motor-cars, they had all been commandeered, and all the trams and taxis and much of the other transport were painted red and black. The revolutionary posters were everywhere, flaming from the walls in clean reds and blues that made the few remaining advertisements look like daubs of mud. Down the Ramblas, the wide central artery of the town where crowds of people streamed constantly to and fro, the loudspeakers were bellowing revolutionary songs all day and far into the night. And it was the aspect of the crowds that was the queerest thing of all.

B. In outward appearance it was a town in which the wealthy classes had practically ceased to exist. Except for a small number of women and foreigners there were no ‘well-dressed’ people at all. Practically everyone wore rough working-class clothes, or blue overalls, or some variant of the militia uniform. All this was queer and moving. There was much in it that I did not understand, in some ways I did not even like it, but I recognized it immediately as a state of affairs worth fighting for. Also, I believed that things were as they appeared, that this was really a workers’ State and that the entire bourgeoisie had either fled, been killed, or voluntarily come over to the workers’ side; I did not realize that great numbers of well-to-do bourgeois were simply lying low and disguising themselves as proletarians for the time being.

C. Together with all this there was something of the evil atmosphere of war. The town had a gaunt untidy look, roads and buildings were in poor repair, the streets at night were dimly lit for fear of air-raids, the shops were mostly shabby and half-empty.

D. Meat was scarce and milk practically unobtainable, there was a shortage of coal, sugar, and petrol, and a really serious shortage of bread. Even at this period the bread-queues were often hundreds of yards long. Yet so far as one could judge the people were contented and hopeful. There was no unemployment, and the price of living was still extremely low; you saw very few conspicuously destitute people, and no beggars except the gypsies.

E. Above all, there was a belief in the revolution and the future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of equality and freedom. Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine. In the barbers’ shops were Anarchist notices (the barbers were mostly Anarchists) solemnly explaining that barbers were no longer slaves. In the streets were colored posters appealing to prostitutes to stop being prostitutes. To anyone from the hard-boiled, sneering civilization of the English-speaking races there was something rather pathetic in the literalness with which these idealistic Spaniards took the hackneyed phrases of revolution. At that time revolutionary ballads of the naivest kind, all about proletarian brotherhood and the wickedness of Mussolini, were being sold on the streets for a few centimes each. I have often seen an illiterate militiaman buy one of these ballads, laboriously spell out the words, and then, when he had got the hang of it, begin singing it to an appropriate tune.

Questions·        

  1. What did Orwell notice about life in Spain that signaled impending societal change?·        
  2. How do you interpret this quote from the final paragraph: “Human beings were trying to behave as human beings and not as cogs in the capitalist machine.”·        
  3. Although resources were very scarce there was still “a belief in the revolution and future, a feeling of having suddenly emerged into an era of quality and freedom.”
  4. In your opinion, how did the arrival of foreign fighters in support of the Spanish Republic contribute to this optimism?

(I) For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest HemingwayEpigraph by John Donne (1572-1631)

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Questions·        

  1. Why do you think Hemingway chose this as the epigraph for his novel?·        
  2. In your opinion, how could a quote from the 16th century connect to events in Spain and the world happening 400 years later?

Ernest Hemingway (L) and Robert Capa (R) meet in Idaho in 1940.

The Spanish Civil War Final Writing Assignment

Directions:

Choose ONE of the following prompts and write a 3-4-page essay in response. Be sure to follow the specific formatting expectations outlined in each prompt.·        

  1. You are a young American in the year of 1937. The Spanish Civil War has been ongoing for the past year, and several weeks ago you and some friends took it upon yourselves to enlist in an American brigade to go and fight against fascism in Spain. Write a letter home describing how you feel about your decision. Explain what inspired you to go and fight in this war. Use our reading of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls to offer some guidance in putting yourself in this position.·        

2. Write an extended journal entry from the point of view of Robert Jordan at any point in the novel. Make sure to refer to specific points in his story. You may set your journal entry right before the start of the novel, alluding to events that will unfold early in the book.·  

3. Write an essay exploring TWO major themes of both For Whom the Bell Tolls and our supplementary readings about the Spanish Civil War. Remember to cite all references to the novel and outside sources appropriately.

Children’s Literature about the Islamic World

Children’s Literature about the Islamic World

Arwa Alhumaidan, Princess Nora Bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia Source: Pew Research Center
Muslim Population

In 2010 there were an estimated 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. They are the religious majority in 49 countries. However, less than .2% of Muslims live in North America. However, over recent years the Islamic population of the United States has grown significantly. According to Pew Research Center there were about 3.3 million Muslims of all ages living in the United States in 2015. Washington DC and New Jersey both have larger Muslim populations and the total U.S. Muslim population is projected to reach 8.1 million by 2050.

muslimPopulation Chart

Most recent Muslim immigrants came to the U.S. came from Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh, or Iraq. Many left their homelands to escape from poverty or war and want to become a part of the United States and American citizens. Unfortunately, in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Muslims have faced, and continue to face, stereotyping and prejudice across the nation. The Council on American-Islamic Relations reports that between 2014 and 2016 “anti-Muslim bias incidents jumped 65 percent.” Writing in Rethinking Schools (v. 32, n. 2, Winter 2017), Alison Kysia, a Muslim educator and curriculum developer, argued “The increasing violence against Muslims, suggests we, as Americans, are becoming less tolerant and need educational interventions that move beyond post-9/11.”

Multicultural education provides a point of identification for marginalized groups, including Islamic children in American schools, and is an essential tool for promoting diversity and challenging Islamophobia. The younger children are when they are exposed to new ideas and people, the more receptive they will be, which is why exploring children’s books about Muslims and the Islamic world is so important. The books I recommend explore different major themes, such as, wars, poverty, immigration, celebrations, Muslims’ achievements, and illustration of Islam.

War: War and its consequences play a significant role in shaping Islamic literacy, since many Muslim countries have been conflict sites for several years. These books help children consider the terrible living conditions people are exposed to in war areas, what it means to live in a refugee camp, and also understand why many people want to immigrate to the United States and other safer countries. In many of the war-torn countries children are major victims, unable to receive an education and sometimes forced to take on family responsibilities, including work, at a very young age.

Silent Music: A Story of Baghdad by James Rumford.

Silent Music

This book is about Ali from Baghdad who is living in a war zone. He tries to escape from the terrible life by doing his favorite hobbies; playing soccer and writing calligraphy. This book also teaches about the beauty of Arabic calligraphy. It includes a story about Yakut, the most famous calligrapher who lived in Baghdad 800 years ago.

The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq by Jeanette Winter.

Librarian of Basra

The book is about a brave woman named Alia Muhammad Baker who is a librarian in Basra, Iraq. She believes in the value of books for future generations. During the invasion of Iraq, Alia put herself at risk and saved the library’s books by hiding them in her house and in a neighbor’s store. The library was destroyed and Alia saved 30,000 books. The book shows that everywhere there are good people who want the best for everyone. It is also worthy story about the role women can play in an Islamic country.

Four Feet, Two Sandals by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadre Mohammed tells about the war in Afghanistan.

Four Feet Two Sandals

It is about two girls who share a pair of shoes that the relief workers brought to the refugee camp. This book successfully describes the refugees’ daily lives, waiting on a long line, washing clothes in the river, scrambling to grab anything from the relief workers, and waiting for their names to appear on the list for immigrating to America. Teachers can use this book to explore why refugees want to leave their countries.

The story in Sami and The Time of Troubles by Judith Heide Gilliland and Ted Lewin takes place in Beirut, Lebanon.

Sami and Time of Troubles

It compares life before and after the war. Peace and happiness are transformed into fear and terror. The story explains how children take major responsibilities, such as working to support their families. The illustrator, Ted Lewin, succeeds in depicting Lebanese’ culture. Some examples include the tradition of sitting on the ground and the type of food they were eating.

The Roses in My Carpets by Rukhsana Khan and Ronald Himler is about a young Afghani refugee who was facing a terrible life under war. It is a good book to get an idea about war from the sense of the people who are experiencing it. It illustrates the Afghani culture and the way people live.

Roses in My Carpets

Books about Immigration

Coming to America: A Muslim Family’s Story by Bernard Wolf.

Coming to America

This book describes the immigration experience of an Egyptian family that came to live in New York. The book illustrates how this family has integrated the American society while remaining true to their Muslim beliefs and Egyptian customs.

Sitti’s Secrets by Naomi Shihab Nye; illustrated by Nancy Carpenter.

Sitti's Secrets

The book tells about a girl who went to visit her grandmother who lives on the other side of the earth. The girl and her grandmother couldn’t communicate orally, but they found another way to understand each other. In the end, the girl wrote a letter to the U.S President telling him that Palestinians only want peace.

Islamic Religion and Culture: These books focus on illustrating the Muslim religion. They present an accurate image of the Muslim cultures and how people celebrate around the world.

Night of The Moon is a Muslim holiday story by Hana Khan and illustrated by Julie Paschkis.

Night of the Moon

Teachers can use this book to invite children to experience the traditions of the month of Ramadan through the eyes of a Pakistani-American girl named Yasmeen.. It explains how in the Islamic calendar the months follow the lunar cycle. Through this book, the author why Muslims fast during the month of Ramadan. It is a rich source available for teachers to use in their classrooms to present the Muslims’ holiday of Eid Al-Fitr and its traditions.

The White Nights of Ramadan by Maha Addasi takes place in Kuwait.

White Nights of Ramadan

It is about a traditional festival called Girgian that comes in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan. In this festival, children dress in traditional clothes and go from house to house collecting treats from their neighbors. Teachers can use this book to introduce children to a different cultural experience of celebrations. Children can identify the similarities and differences in people’s celebrations. Most people around the world celebrate by eating sweets use lights as symbols and signals, and gather with each other. Children can also identify cultural differences.

The Day of Ahmed’s Secret by Florence Parry Heide, Judith Heide Gilliland, and Ted Lewin.

Day of Ahmed's secret

Ahmed lives in Cairo, Egypt. The book describes the city and his daily life. Ahmed helps his family financially by driving a donkey cart to deliver butane gas. In the end, he shared his secret that he can write his name in Arabic. This is a very realistic book that makes it as if you traveled to the actual place.

My Own Special Way by Mithaa al Khayyat; retold by Vivian French; illustrated by Maya Fidawi.

My Own Special Way

This is a story about Hamada who is a young Muslim girl who wants to be like her sisters and wear the veil. Each sister suggested a different way to wear veil, but in the end, Hamada chose her own way. Teachers can use this book to illustrate that it is not necessary to be like others. It is wonderful to be different. This book is a great addition to build cultural literacy.

Deep in the Sahara written by Kelly Cunnane; illustrated by Hoda Hadadi.

Deep in the Sahara

The book is about Lalla a little girl who lives in Mauritania. She wants to wear a malafa like the Mauritanian women. Through the story, Lalla discovers that wearing a malafa is more than being beautiful and mysterious and valuable. It is an expression of faith. This book is a valuable book with realistic illustrations about Mauritanian culture.

My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes

My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes

Italy and the Holocaust Foundation

Reprinted with permission from the Italy and Holocaust Foundation (http://www.italyandtheholocaust.org/education.aspx

MY ITALIAN SECRET: The Forgotten Heroes is a feature length documentary that tells the story of courageous Italians, including sports idol Gino Bartali, who carried out ingenious schemes to rescue and protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Italy. The film is narrated by Isabella Rossellini with Robert Loggia as the voice of Gino Bartali. It is available on disc, at Amazon Video and on iTunes.

MY ITALIAN SECRET tells personal accounts that reflect this little known piece of history. Through witnesses’ stories, viewers revisit a time when an entire continent was engulfed in genocide. They learn how approximately 80% of Jewish people living in Italy, including foreign Jews, survived the Holocaust. On September 8, 1943 the Nazi’s invaded Northern Italy and the deportation of thousands of Jewish people and others to Auschwitz began. This film asks: Why would someone risk his or her own life and put their family in jeopardy to ‘do the right thing’ and protect the life of another person . . . a stranger?

Yad Vashem posthumously recognized Gino Bartali from Italy as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’. Bartali was a champion cyclist and a beloved public figure. During the German occupation of Italy (beginning in September 1943), Bartali, a devout Catholic, was part of a rescue network spearheaded by Rabbi Nathan Cassuto of Florence together with the Archbishop of Florence Cardinal Elia Angelo Dalla Costa (previously recognized as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’). This Jewish-Christian network, set up following the German occupation of Italy and the onset of deportation of Jews, saved hundreds of local Jews and Jewish refugees from territories which had previously been under Italian control, mostly in France and Yugoslavia. Gino Bartali acted as a courier for the network, secreting forged documents and papers in his bicycle and transporting them between cities, all under the guise of training. Knowingly risking his life to rescue Jews, Bartali transferred falsified documents to various contacts, among them Rabbi Cassuto.

Although Gino Bartali is a sports legend, his most daring triumph came when he risked his life countless times to save Jews threatened by Nazi extermination. The story of Bartali and the secret network of which he was a member, is just one example of the heroism exhibited by thousands of ordinary Italians who risked their lives to save others from capture and death. As an entire continent was engulfed in a genocide, which took the lives of most Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe (11 million people perished, including 6 million Jews), approximately 80 percent of Italy’s Jews survived. Bartali, like most of the rescuers, never sought recognition or reward. Few of those he helped knew his name or what role he played in their rescue. In addition to Gino Bartali, thousands of conscientious individual Italians risked their lives in order to assist people who in many cases were complete strangers. Most of these heroes never spoke of their courageous deeds.

Guiding Questions: Use the documentary “My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust” to provide evidence to answer the following questions.

  1. Identify one segment that is a primary source and one segment that is a secondary source.
  2. Provide one positive example and one negative example of how some Italians treated the Jews during the Holocaust.
  3. Describe three ways in which Italian rescuers helped the Jews during the Holocaust.
  4. In your opinion, which of the six individual characters in the documentary displayed the most courage. (Explain the reason for your answer.)
  5. Can the experiences of the people portrayed in the documentary be related to the current refugee crisis? (Explain)
gino-bartali

A) Who was Gino Bartali?

Gino Bartali is well known in the sport of cycling and holds the record for the longest time span between victories at the Tour de France (ten years). Bartali’s life provides a powerful lesson in how moral endurance can empower from within. As Bartali attained “super star status” in the sport of cycling, he never lost sight of the fact that it was his inner strength that carried him through the most difficult moments of his life.

As he told his son Andrea, “If you’re good at a sport, they attach the medals to your shirt and then they shine in some museum. That which is earned by doing good deeds is attached to the soul and shines elsewhere.”

In 1943, when Italy was under the German army occupation, Archbishop Elia Angelo Dalla Costa and Rabbi Nathan Cassuto organized a resistance network. Bartali was recruited by the network and worked as a courier. In addition, Bartali aided the Assisi resistance movement that was organized by church members from his hometown. He also sheltered a local Jewish family in his home. As part of his job as courier, Bartali hid documents in the handlebar and seat of his bicycle. These documents were primarily export visas, giving numerous Jews the chance to evade deportation to the death camps. Long bike rides were common place for professional cyclists, even during the war. Bartali was able to travel thousands of kilometers around Italy under the guise of training rides, while he smuggled forged identity papers in the frame of his bicycle to Jewish families trying to desperately flee the country.

After the war, Bartali never spoke of his underground activities and refused all attempts at interviews. He simply remarked that “he had been motivated by his conscience and therefore did not want to have his activities documented.” Bartali’s decision to act was heroic not because he felt no fear but rather because he did not let his fear prevent him from doing what he felt was ethically right. He demonstrated moral endurance, forged in a moment of danger that few of us could ever hope to fully understand. Although the exact number of people is unknown due to Bartali’s taciturn nature, he is credited with saving 800 lives. Yad Vashem recognized Gino Bartali as a ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ in 2013. In spite of the heroic title, Bartali never thought of himself as a genuine hero. He once said, “Real heroes are others, those who have suffered in their souls, in their hearts, and their spirit, for their loved ones. Those are the real heroes. I’m just a cyclist.”

Questions

  1. Why is Bartali famous?
  2. What did Bartali mean when he said, “That which is earned by doing good deeds is attached to the soul and shines elsewhere.”
  3. How did Bartali become involved in saving Jews?
  4. What was Bartali’s role in the resistance movement?
  5. How did Bartali demonstrate his moral endurance?

B) The Rescue of Jews in Assisi, Italy

Essay Assessment: Write a response to the following question that includes an introduction, at least two body paragraphs and a conclusion. To what extent was Gino Bartali’s role in the resistance movement in Italy successful? In your response, be sure to address the following: supporting evidence from the reading and website, individual’s actions/participation, and results of the action taken.

Father Brunacci

Father Brunacci in Assisi

The only time in history when there is a record of Jews living in Assisi, Italy was during the Holocaust, when the town and its churches, monasteries and convents became a safe haven for several hundred Jews. Shortly after the German occupation, when the manhunt for Jews began, the Bishop of Assisi, Giuseppe Nicolini, ordered Father Brunacci to head the rescue operation of Jews and to arrange sheltering places in some twenty-six monasteries and convents. The Bishop authorized the hiding of Jews in places that were closed to outsiders by monastic regulations. The Committee of Assistance that Bishop Nicolini organized transformed Assisi into a shelter for many Jews.

In addition, many other Jews were provided with false papers enabling them to travel and survive in other places. Later, Father Brunacci was arrested and tried in court for his involvement in Jewish rescue efforts but was released after the intervention by the Vatican. Father Rufino Niccacci, the Guardian of the St. Damiano Monastery, played an important role in the network. He arranged false papers and found hiding places in the monasteries and convents, disguising the Jews as monks and nuns. The network not only saved Jewish lives, but also made great efforts to supply Jews with some of their religious needs. After the war, Father Brunacci described how during Yom Kipper, the Day of Atonement and the highest holiday in the Jewish religion was celebrated in Assisi in 1943. The convent nuns prepared the special meal for the ending of the fast.

Not only priest and nuns of the church participated in this collective effort, but many others played key roles in the rescue of Jews. One such person was Luigi Brizi who owned a souvenir shop in Assisi that operated a printing press. Brizi and his son became members of the Assisi rescue network and risked their lives by printing false papers for the persecuted Jews. Luigi’s son, Trento, bicycled to Foligno, 20 kilometers from Assisi, to a friend who used his etching skills to produce seals in order to stamp the false documents. The Viterbi family was one of the families that lived openly due to the false papers provided by Brizi. After the war, Brunacci remarked that about 200 Jews had been saved from the persecutors. As a result, Yad Vashem in Israel, honored the following people for their role in saving Jews: Father Rufino Niccacci was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1976; Bishop Giuseppe Nicolini and Father Brunacci were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1977; and Luigi Brizi and his son Trento were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1977.

Questions

  1. Why did Jews move to Assisi?
  2. How did the Bishop of Assisi, Giuseppe Nicolini, react to the German occupation?
  3. Explain what happened to Father Brunacci as a result of his rescue efforts.
  4. How did Father Rufino Nicacci’s role in the rescue network help Jews?
  5. How did Luigi Brizi and his son Trento participate in the saving of Jews?
  6. How did the Jewish people give thanks to those who saved their lives in Assisi?

Essay Assessment: Write a response to the following question that includes an introduction, body paragraph and a conclusion. To what extent were the activities of the Assisi Underground network successful in the saving of Jews during the Holocaust? In your response, be sure to address the following: – supporting evidence from the reading – action of individuals – results of action taken

C. Courageous Hall of Fame

Directions: Review the following list of individuals who performed acts of courage (up-standers). Choose one individual to research the actions taken by the individual and answer the five project questions (only one student researching an individual). After completing the research, the teacher may choose to have students present their arguments for their nominee to the class. The teacher may also have students vote to determine if the arguments/evidence presented was strong enough for the nominee to be inducted into the Courageous Hall of Fame.

Alternative Strategies: Write a letter to the Courageous Hall of Fame award committee presenting your arguments/evidence to nominate your individual person to the Courageous Hall of Fame. Write a thank you letter to the individual researched thanking him or her for his/her acts of courage.

COURAGEOUS HALL OF FAME NOMINEES: Father Joseph Andre; Aristides de Souza Mendes; Mordecai Anieleswicz; Dr. Giuseppe Moreali; Gino Bartali; Father Ruffino Niccacci; Father Arigo Beccari; Bishop Giuseppe Placido Nicolini; Father Marie Benoit; Uri Orley; Tuvia, Zusia, Aasel Bielski (brothers); John Pehle; Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Giorgio Perlasca; Dr. Giovanni Borromeo; Marion Pritchard; Leon Feldhendler; Bishop Angelo Roncalli; Anne Frank; Irene Sandler (Opdyke); Varian Fry; Oskar Schindler; Meep Gies; Monsignor Schivo; Ana Ginno; Sophie Schole; Paul Grueninger; Tempo Sugihara; Alicia Appleman-Jurman; Hanna Szenes; Jan Karski; Marie Agnes Tribbioli; Father Maximillian Kolbe; Andre Trocme; Janusz Korczak; Raoul Wallenberg; Abba Kovner; Elie Wiesel; Take & Edna Lasow; Sir Nicholas Winton (Kindertransport) 

MY ITALIAN SECRET: The Forgotten Heroes is a feature length documentary that tells the story of courageous Italians, including sports idol Gino Bartali, who carried out ingenious schemes to rescue and protect Jews in Nazi-occupied Italy. The film is narrated by Isabella Rossellini with Robert Loggia as the voice of Gino Bartali. It is available on disc, at Amazon Video and on iTunes.

MY ITALIAN SECRET tells personal accounts that reflect this little known piece of history. Through witnesses’ stories, viewers revisit a time when an entire continent was engulfed in genocide. They learn how approximately 80% of Jewish people living in Italy, including foreign Jews, survived the Holocaust. On September 8, 1943 the Nazi’s invaded Northern Italy and the deportation of thousands of Jewish people and others to Auschwitz began. This film asks: Why would someone risk his or her own life and put their family in jeopardy to ‘do the right thing’ and protect the life of another person . . . a stranger?

Yad Vashem posthumously recognized Gino Bartali from Italy as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’. Bartali was a champion cyclist and a beloved public figure. During the German occupation of Italy (beginning in September 1943), Bartali, a devout Catholic, was part of a rescue network spearheaded by Rabbi Nathan Cassuto of Florence together with the Archbishop of Florence Cardinal Elia Angelo Dalla Costa (previously recognized as ‘Righteous Among the Nations’). This Jewish-Christian network, set up following the German occupation of Italy and the onset of deportation of Jews, saved hundreds of local Jews and Jewish refugees from territories which had previously been under Italian control, mostly in France and Yugoslavia. Gino Bartali acted as a courier for the network, secreting forged documents and papers in his bicycle and transporting them between cities, all under the guise of training. Knowingly risking his life to rescue Jews, Bartali transferred falsified documents to various contacts, among them Rabbi Cassuto.

Although Gino Bartali is a sports legend, his most daring triumph came when he risked his life countless times to save Jews threatened by Nazi extermination. The story of Bartali and the secret network of which he was a member, is just one example of the heroism exhibited by thousands of ordinary Italians who risked their lives to save others from capture and death. As an entire continent was engulfed in a genocide, which took the lives of most Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe (11 million people perished, including 6 million Jews), approximately 80 percent of Italy’s Jews survived. Bartali, like most of the rescuers, never sought recognition or reward. Few of those he helped knew his name or what role he played in their rescue. In addition to Gino Bartali, thousands of conscientious individual Italians risked their lives in order to assist people who in many cases were complete strangers. Most of these heroes never spoke of their courageous deeds.

Guiding Questions: Use the documentary “My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust” to provide evidence to answer the following questions.

  1. Identify one segment that is a primary source and one segment that is a secondary source.
  2. Provide one positive example and one negative example of how some Italians treated the Jews during the Holocaust.
  3. Describe three ways in which Italian rescuers helped the Jews during the Holocaust.
  4. In your opinion, which of the six individual characters in the documentary displayed the most courage. (Explain the reason for your answer.)
  5. Can the experiences of the people portrayed in the documentary be related to the current refugee crisis? (Explain)
gino-bartali
Gino Bartali

A) Who was Gino Bartali?

Gino Bartali is well known in the sport of cycling and holds the record for the longest time span between victories at the Tour de France (ten years). Bartali’s life provides a powerful lesson in how moral endurance can empower from within. As Bartali attained “super star status” in the sport of cycling, he never lost sight of the fact that it was his inner strength that carried him through the most difficult moments of his life.

As he told his son Andrea, “If you’re good at a sport, they attach the medals to your shirt and then they shine in some museum. That which is earned by doing good deeds is attached to the soul and shines elsewhere.”

In 1943, when Italy was under the German army occupation, Archbishop Elia Angelo Dalla Costa and Rabbi Nathan Cassuto organized a resistance network. Bartali was recruited by the network and worked as a courier. In addition, Bartali aided the Assisi resistance movement that was organized by church members from his hometown. He also sheltered a local Jewish family in his home. As part of his job as courier, Bartali hid documents in the handlebar and seat of his bicycle. These documents were primarily export visas, giving numerous Jews the chance to evade deportation to the death camps. Long bike rides were common place for professional cyclists, even during the war. Bartali was able to travel thousands of kilometers around Italy under the guise of training rides, while he smuggled forged identity papers in the frame of his bicycle to Jewish families trying to desperately flee the country.

After the war, Bartali never spoke of his underground activities and refused all attempts at interviews. He simply remarked that “he had been motivated by his conscience and therefore did not want to have his activities documented.” Bartali’s decision to act was heroic not because he felt no fear but rather because he did not let his fear prevent him from doing what he felt was ethically right. He demonstrated moral endurance, forged in a moment of danger that few of us could ever hope to fully understand. Although the exact number of people is unknown due to Bartali’s taciturn nature, he is credited with saving 800 lives. Yad Vashem recognized Gino Bartali as a ‘Righteous Among the Nations’ in 2013. In spite of the heroic title, Bartali never thought of himself as a genuine hero. He once said, “Real heroes are others, those who have suffered in their souls, in their hearts, and their spirit, for their loved ones. Those are the real heroes. I’m just a cyclist.”

Questions

  1. Why is Bartali famous?
  2. What did Bartali mean when he said, “That which is earned by doing good deeds is attached to the soul and shines elsewhere.”
  3. How did Bartali become involved in saving Jews?
  4. What was Bartali’s role in the resistance movement?
  5. How did Bartali demonstrate his moral endurance?

B) The Rescue of Jews in Assisi, Italy

Essay Assessment: Write a response to the following question that includes an introduction, at least two body paragraphs and a conclusion. To what extent was Gino Bartali’s role in the resistance movement in Italy successful? In your response, be sure to address the following: supporting evidence from the reading and website, individual’s actions/participation, and results of the action taken.

Father Brunacci

Father Brunacci in Assisi

The only time in history when there is a record of Jews living in Assisi, Italy was during the Holocaust, when the town and its churches, monasteries and convents became a safe haven for several hundred Jews. Shortly after the German occupation, when the manhunt for Jews began, the Bishop of Assisi, Giuseppe Nicolini, ordered Father Brunacci to head the rescue operation of Jews and to arrange sheltering places in some twenty-six monasteries and convents. The Bishop authorized the hiding of Jews in places that were closed to outsiders by monastic regulations. The Committee of Assistance that Bishop Nicolini organized transformed Assisi into a shelter for many Jews.

In addition, many other Jews were provided with false papers enabling them to travel and survive in other places. Later, Father Brunacci was arrested and tried in court for his involvement in Jewish rescue efforts but was released after the intervention by the Vatican. Father Rufino Niccacci, the Guardian of the St. Damiano Monastery, played an important role in the network. He arranged false papers and found hiding places in the monasteries and convents, disguising the Jews as monks and nuns. The network not only saved Jewish lives, but also made great efforts to supply Jews with some of their religious needs. After the war, Father Brunacci described how during Yom Kipper, the Day of Atonement and the highest holiday in the Jewish religion was celebrated in Assisi in 1943. The convent nuns prepared the special meal for the ending of the fast.

Not only priest and nuns of the church participated in this collective effort, but many others played key roles in the rescue of Jews. One such person was Luigi Brizi who owned a souvenir shop in Assisi that operated a printing press. Brizi and his son became members of the Assisi rescue network and risked their lives by printing false papers for the persecuted Jews. Luigi’s son, Trento, bicycled to Foligno, 20 kilometers from Assisi, to a friend who used his etching skills to produce seals in order to stamp the false documents. The Viterbi family was one of the families that lived openly due to the false papers provided by Brizi. After the war, Brunacci remarked that about 200 Jews had been saved from the persecutors. As a result, Yad Vashem in Israel, honored the following people for their role in saving Jews: Father Rufino Niccacci was recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1976; Bishop Giuseppe Nicolini and Father Brunacci were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1977; and Luigi Brizi and his son Trento were recognized as Righteous Among the Nations in 1977.

Questions

  1. Why did Jews move to Assisi?
  2. How did the Bishop of Assisi, Giuseppe Nicolini, react to the German occupation?
  3. Explain what happened to Father Brunacci as a result of his rescue efforts.
  4. How did Father Rufino Nicacci’s role in the rescue network help Jews?
  5. How did Luigi Brizi and his son Trento participate in the saving of Jews?
  6. How did the Jewish people give thanks to those who saved their lives in Assisi?

Essay Assessment: Write a response to the following question that includes an introduction, body paragraph and a conclusion. To what extent were the activities of the Assisi Underground network successful in the saving of Jews during the Holocaust? In your response, be sure to address the following: – supporting evidence from the reading – action of individuals – results of action taken

C. Courageous Hall of Fame

Directions: Review the following list of individuals who performed acts of courage (up-standers). Choose one individual to research the actions taken by the individual and answer the five project questions (only one student researching an individual). After completing the research, the teacher may choose to have students present their arguments for their nominee to the class. The teacher may also have students vote to determine if the arguments/evidence presented was strong enough for the nominee to be inducted into the Courageous Hall of Fame.

Alternative Strategies: Write a letter to the Courageous Hall of Fame award committee presenting your arguments/evidence to nominate your individual person to the Courageous Hall of Fame. Write a thank you letter to the individual researched thanking him or her for his/her acts of courage.

COURAGEOUS HALL OF FAME NOMINEES:

Father Joseph Andre; Aristides de Souza Mendes; Mordecai Anieleswicz; Dr. Giuseppe Moreali; Gino Bartali; Father Ruffino Niccacci; Father Arigo Beccari; Bishop Giuseppe Placido Nicolini; Father Marie Benoit; Uri Orley; Tuvia, Zusia, Aasel Bielski (brothers); John Pehle; Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Giorgio Perlasca; Dr. Giovanni Borromeo; Marion Pritchard; Leon Feldhendler; Bishop Angelo Roncalli; Anne Frank; Irene Sandler (Opdyke); Varian Fry; Oskar Schindler; Meep Gies; Monsignor Schivo; Ana Ginno; Sophie Schole; Paul Grueninger; Tempo Sugihara; Alicia Appleman-Jurman; Hanna Szenes; Jan Karski; Marie Agnes Tribbioli; Father Maximillian Kolbe; Andre Trocme; Janusz Korczak; Raoul Wallenberg; Abba Kovner; Elie Wiesel; Take & Edna Lasow; Sir Nicholas Winton (Kindertransport) 

COURAGEOUS HALL OF FAME RESOURCES·        

A Teacher’s Guide to the Holocaust https://fcit.usf.edu/holocaust/people/rescuer.htm·        

Notable Social Studies trade books for young people http://www.socialstudies.org/notable

Suggested Reading for Young Adults: Altshuler, David. Hitler’s War against the Jews. New York: Berhman House, 1978.

Anflick, Charles. Resistance: Teen Partisans and Resistance Who Fought Nazi Tyranny. NY: Rosen, 1999.

Bartlett, Susan Campbell. Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow. Scholastic, 2012.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Girl by Anne Frank. New York: Doubleday & Company, 1947.Lee, Carol Ann. Anne Frank and the Children of the Holocaust. U.S.A.: Puffin Books, 2006.

Rapport, Doreen. Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust. Summerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Publishers, 2012.

Warren, Andrea. Surviving Hitler: A Boy in the Nazi Death Camps. U.S.A.: Harper Collins, 2001.

Meltzer, Milton. Rescue: The Story of How the Gentiles Saved Jews in the Holocaust. NY: Harper, 1988.

Rogasky, Barbara. Smoke and Ashes: The Story of the Holocaust.New York: Holiday House, 1988.

Websites: ·         I

taly and the Holocaust Foundation (www.italyandtheholocaust.org)·         Anne Frank Online http://annefrank.com/

Cybrary of the Holocaust http://www.remember.org·        

The Simon Wiesenthal Center http://www.wiesenthal.com·        

The Holocaust Rescuers http://holocaustrescuers.blogspot.com·        

The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous https://jfr.org/rescuer-stories·        

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum http://www.USHmm.org·        

Yad Vashem http://www.yadvashem.org/yv/en/exhibitions/righteous-women/·        

http://holocaustrescuers.blogspot.com http://www.un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/index.shtml·        

Non-Fiction Holocaust Literature for Young Adults http://ya-holocaust-lit.weebly.com/non-fiction.html

Princeton and Slavery: Moses Taylor Pyne and the Sugar Plantations of the Americas

Princeton and Slavery: Moses Taylor Pyne and the Sugar Plantations of the Americas

Maeve Glass

This article was adapted from a longer essay that can be found at https://slavery.princeton.edu.

When the heat of the first summer of the 20th century settled over campus, a 45-year-old New York lawyer drafted a check for the ceiling fans that would soon turn overhead in the new wing of the Chancellor Green library. The payment of $37 that offered relief to the students was by far one of the smallest contributions that Moses Taylor Pyne, Class of 1877, made to his beloved alma mater. Since joining the Board of Trustees 16 years earlier, the lawyer had contributed anonymous donations with such frequency that when he died in 1921, obituary writers dared not even venture an estimate. Indeed, by that summer of 1900, Pyne’s support for the new library stacks adjacent to Chancellor Green had accrued to a sum that would alone be worth nearly $14 million today. During his tenure as trustee, Pyne’s financial contributions subsidized not only the new library, but also the construction of two undergraduate dormitories on Nassau Street, a slew of new faculty and graduate housing, and endowments for initiatives ranging from a history seminar to a professorship. Today, the Pyne family name graces some of the most iconic buildings on campus, as well as the résumés of celebrated graduates who have received the Pyne Prize, Princeton’s highest undergraduate honor.

Despite the prominence of Pyne’s financial support to Princeton, the complex roots of that support have remained largely out of view. Pyne’s fortune is most often explained with broad references to either his success as a commercial lawyer in New York or his inheritance of a large estate from his grandfather, Moses Taylor, usually described in his capacity as a successful merchant and founding president of a New York bank. A return to the leather-bound account book in which Pyne or his clerk inscribed the payments for the library fans that July of 1900, however, reveals the beginnings of a more complicated story. These records show that Pyne’s payments stemmed directly from an estate whose earliest foundations lay not simply in the financial industry of New York, but in the daily work of carrying the produce of the continent’s largest sugar plantations to the markets of the world.

Those foundations began to be constructed in the early spring of 1832, in a Manhattan counting house up the road from the city’s bustling wharves. That March, Pyne’s grandfather — 23-year-old Moses Taylor — drafted a handwritten circular announcing the launch of a new commission firm at 44 South St. The letter was succinct and to the point. For a percentage of the profits, Moses Taylor and Co. would transport and sell the produce of the continent’s richest soils to the markets of the world.

Over the next four decades, as Taylor’s son-in-law Percy Rivington Pyne took over the firm’s day-to-day management, the fledgling business grew to become one of the most successful firms in the global sugar trade. By the eve of the Civil War, the firm had secured control of nearly one-fifth of the commercial exchanges between Cuba, the world’s largest sugar exporter, and the United States. In doing so, it created the foundations of an estate whose roots lay inextricably entangled with the rise of the largest sugar plantations in North America, fueled by the labor of the enslaved.

From the outset, the geographic scope of the firm’s shipping business made clear that neither Taylor nor his son-in-law had any aversion to carrying the produce harvested by the enslaved. Like many ship owners in New York starting out in the commission business in the 1830s, Taylor originally cast a broad net, offering to carry the produce of plantations that ran along the full length of the southern Atlantic Coast and the Gulf Coast, from the rice of the Carolinas to the cotton of the Mississippi Delta. Taylor’s incoming correspondence in the opening decade of business teemed with letters and reports listing the most current prices of produce from Charleston to Savannah to New Orleans.

By the mid-1830s, the firm had focused its shipping enterprise on a zone of production that would become the last great bastion of slavery in North America: the island of Cuba, where newly constructed railroads promised a route into the less-depleted interior and where the recently enacted laws of neighboring islands abolishing slave labor did not apply.

For centuries, the great slave ships had arrived from the coast of Africa in the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, each laden with chained men and a handful of women to work the fields on the archipelago of small islands. The English called the region by its produce: the “Sugar Islands.” By the eve of the American Revolution in 1774, this archipelago had become one of the densest slave societies in the Americas.

Beginning in the early 1800s, however, the fleet of slave ships that arrived from Africa had begun to sail past these smaller islands. Instead, they converged on the ports of Cuba: a place where the slave traders could still find a welcome market for their cargos and where, for the first time, in 1837, iron rails leading out from Havana along the old cart roads into the deep valleys of the interior promised the conquest of some of the most fertile soils in the hemisphere.

Eager to capitalize on the opening of this last sugar frontier, under Percy Pyne’s management, Moses Taylor and Co. began to construct a portfolio of partnerships with some of the island’s most powerful planters — some of whom were engaged in the slave trade itself.

One of the first and most prominent members of the firm’s network was the Havana-based firm of Drake Brothers, said to be responsible for two-thirds of all sugar exported off the island. Although the business was primarily a mercantile firm, its head, Carlos Drake, proudly introduced himself as “… a proprietor … of a sugar plantation” with some 400 slaves. Other key partners in the portfolio included Tomás Terry, a planter with so much sugar to his name he did not even always know how much of it was held in Moses Taylor’s warehouse. Terry — who reportedly had made his initial fortune buying sick slaves and then reselling them for profit — first began doing business with Moses Taylor as early as 1838. By 1865, Terry was consigning more than $1 million worth of sugar and molasses to the firm on an annual basis, from his property holdings in Cuba that grew to include seven of the largest plantations on the island. Indeed, by the time of the American Civil War, the firm had built a network that encompassed at least 24 estates on the island and that profited directly from the labor of thousands of enslaved men and women.

As the ships of Moses Taylor and Co. sailed for the island with ever-increasing frequency, so too did an ever-growing number of ships arrive in Havana from Africa, carrying hundreds of chained men and women who had been sold into slavery. Within the first decade of the first arrival of Taylor’s fleets, 180,000 enslaved people had been brought to the island to work the booming plantation economy. Those who visited the new estates of the interior returned with stories recounting the horrors they had witnessed. Nine years after Moses Taylor and Co. opened for business, for example, one abolitionist declared the conditions on the island to be “more destructive to human life … than in any other slave-holding country on the face of the habitable globe.” Later visitors would remember the bloodhounds who lay in wait at the gates of the estates. Slaves who survived recalled the endless work of turning the forests of cane into sugar, moving as if imprisoned in a state of half-consciousness, harvesting the sugar soon to be sent down to the docks where the cargo ships lay waiting.

The firm’s connection to slave labor was not limited to these formal transactions of carrying the produce of the plantations to market. Increasingly, Moses Taylor and Co. began to offer financial services to the island’s planters, investing the profits from their sugar estates in the United States’ growing number of industries and corporations. In November of 1851, for example, the firm purchased 120 shares of a coal company in Pennsylvania on behalf of Tomás Terry. By 1872, the firm had invested almost $3 million in American securities on behalf of Cuban planters.

The continuous stream of handwritten letters that arrived from the island in the firm’s Manhattan offices, moreover, suggests that beneath these financial transactions lay a series of intimate and long-standing relationships, particularly between the planters and Percy Pyne, who undertook painstaking efforts to learn Spanish. In 1864, for example, the wealthy planter Ramón Fernández Criado, who owned the Ingenio Neda estate and nearly 400 slaves, sought Pyne’s help in resolving a sensitive matter. As he explained in his letter, he had decided to write to Pyne “and not to Moses Taylor because as you know Spanish, it is not necessary for an interpreter to enter into this business, which is very confidential and especially entrusted to you for my protection.”

This level of intimacy appears in the nature of the requests that Pyne fielded from the island, ranging from requests for help with urgently needed financial loans to hosting friends who were planning to visit New York. The planter F.G. Rolando wrote to request the firm’s help in securing machinery for his plantation; nearly 20 years later, the planter’s widow, Mariana Rolando, wrote to request a loan, to be repaid in sugar.

Indeed, amid the firm’s records, one finds the will of a planter named Lorenzo Jay dated 1866 — the year after Congress ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States. In neat cursive, the will lists both the 220 slaves who worked on Jay’s plantation at the time of his death, as well as a statement of the $322,435 he had on account with Moses Taylor and Co.

On the strength of these networks, Taylor accumulated one of the largest fortunes in the country. By the autumn of 1882, when the estate lawyers assembled in an office in Manhattan to take stock of the recently deceased man’s estate, they calculated his assets at a sum worth the equivalent today of $750 million. And there, amid the paperwork listing the names of the heirs to the estate and executors of the trust was that of Taylor’s grandson: a young lawyer named Moses Taylor Pyne, who at the age of 27 found himself as the guardian of a fortune that could transform a small college in New Jersey into one of the world’s leading universities.

Slavery and Resistance in the Hudson Valley

Slavery and Resistance in the Hudson Valley

A.J. Williams-Myers, State University of New York-New Paltz

This article is excerpted from the forward to In Defiance: Runaways from Slavery in New York’s Hudson River Valley, 1735-1831 by Susan Stessin-Cohn and Ashley Hulburt Biagini (Black Dome Press, 2016).

In 1805, Ann B. Long of Wappings Creek, Dutchess County, New York, placed a notice for the return of Mary, a young female runaway slave. Long had searched for Mary three years prior, when she fled enslavement at the age of 13. Newspaper notices offering rewards for the capture and return of enslaved human beings were increasingly common in the 18th and early 19th century Hudson River Valley until slavery was officially abolished in New York State in 1827. These notices provide thought provoking glimpses into the lives of New York State’s enslaved population and are the only records that exist for many of the individuals described in the notices.

The vast number of runaway slave notices in this period are indicative not only of how widespread the institution of slavery was in the Hudson Valley, but also speaks to the magnitude of the struggle for freedom being fought by an oppressed and enslaved people. The dangers of running and the consequences if caught were dire and had to have struck abject fear into the hearts of those contemplating such a feat. Yet, for many, the opportunity to live as a human being, out of bondage, able to breathe the air in freedom, was worth the dangers. It was a courageous choice.

The large number of runaway slave notices also gives us a clue to the increasing importance that the enslaved labor force had become to the rise of a vibrant Hudson Valley socioeconomic system. There was an insatiable need for labor in the economic exploits of first the colonial Dutch and later the English. Both colonial powers initially failed to lure families of white tenant farmers to New York to labor on the big estates of the Dutch patroonships and English manors carved out of prime agricultural land in the Hudson Valley. Even with white indentured servants and Native Americans in the workforce, more hands were needed. That labor shortfall was solved through the Atlantic Connection. The Atlantic Connection included the labor-recruiting ground of Africa, the West Indies, and the mainland British colonies of Virginia and South Carolina. Africans had become chattel through capture and sale, were taken across the Atlantic, and were enslaved in the West Indies and the American South. From there, some were sold to Northern owners, although many of the enslaved came directly to the North from Africa.

The runaway slave notices are stark indices of a nation out of step with the tenets of its foundation. Early settlers in the Hudson Valley immigrated to escape political and religious persecution, and yet, upon their arrival here, they saw fit to participate in a culture that removed others involuntarily from their home-lands and forced them to labor for the economic development of a community in which they had no rights. These notices paint a contradictory and inconsistent picture of the nature of slavery juxtaposed against the articulated philosophy of democratic and Christian principles espoused by the enslavers.

Hudson Valley slavery was initially an institution characterized under the Dutch as a “Matter of Custom” where the African as “half free” maneuvered through somewhat of a more open system from 1626 to 1664. As described by Vivienne Kruger, though slavery was a Matter of Custom, “freed Negroes were not legally discriminated against –- no racial legislation existed to restrict their freedom to own property, intermarry with whites, or own white indentured servants.” Nevertheless, the Dutch “[were] vehement supporters of slavery,” as is evident by the inhumane version of the institution constructed under the Dutch West India Company and its holdings in the Caribbean. The time factor (1626-1664) for implanting that version in New Netherlands was cut short with England’s conquest of the colony. Consequently, slavery as a “Matter of Custom” soon metamorphosed under the English into a more viciously closed system, restricting the enslaved African’s access to freedom given that slavery was now characterized by law.

Ann B. Long’s runaway is a “girl named Mary.” Clearly prominent in the notice is the fact of miscegenation; Mary the runaway is described as a mulatto, evidence that despite the degenerative racial classification of the enslaved as less than whites, sexual racial lines were crossed. According to Long, “the reason of her being now advertised is that I have heard of her being at the Nine Partners.” Long is moved to action with the notice three years later because of where Mary was seen, at Nine Partners among the Quakers, longstanding antislavery advocates who would protect Mary – and thus the likelihood that Long could lose her human property.

Why and when Mary decided to become a runaway in defiance of her enslaved status can only be conjectured. Were there family members of hers at Long’s who might have been sold off or fled earlier? Or was she aware of the fact that the 1799 Gradual Emancipation Act was not an articulation for her freedom, but only for those born after that year, and thus her flight from slavery was the only way she might be able to clutch freedom before she died? Mary’s run for freedom positioned her with others who ran before her and after her on a historical continuum stretching back to capture in Africa, through the dreadful Middle Passage, and American enslavement- an integral part of an endless stream of runaways in search of freedom not far distant.

Mary the runaway sought freedom in the shadow of the story of Southern slavery. Her flight from slavery in New York’s Hudson Valley was overwhelmed by that other larger story with its romanticized view of “encouraging the finer moral instincts of paternalism” in the “peculiar institution.” Perhaps Mary was seen as “troublesome property” in a peculiarly psychological model of slavery and represented resistance amid the cries of revolt and revolution. Yet, though overshadowed by that larger Southern story of slavery in America, Mary’s flight was part and parcel of that story as “the violent world surrounding [and engulfing Mary] was a microcosm of in extremis of the American slave system.” The sadism, cruelty, violence, passion, flight, and rebellion, and all the demonical acts of inhumanity perpetrated by the enslaver against the enslaved, so characteristic of Southern slavery, endemically riddled, as well, the very core of Mary’s world- Northern slavery.

Mary’s quest for freedom and the quests of others in these notices reveal images of runaways etched up and down the valley from its most northern extent to its southern terminus abutting New York City. It is an interesting, engaging, and revealing, though at times gripping, view of humanity as chattel in flight from a diabolical instrument of oppression at the hands of fellow humans for the expressed purpose of economic gain. This portraiture, pieced together through the array of runaway notices, is a trove of descriptive information of who the runaways were, to whom they belonged as human property, with whom they ran, their age range, the talents/skills they possessed, their personality characteristics, and their body abrasions/scars- often the end results of violent encounters with their owners. Such master/enslaved encounters “expose the violence and cruelty that were inherent in the slave system.”

Images of that violence and cruelty are evident in that portrait- as characterized by the owner himself in his notice – of the “Indian Servant Wench” in flight from her bondage in North Castle in Westchester County. Kate is 15 years of age and, as a mark of human indignity, she is strapped with an iron collar about her neck as a statement of ownership.

James Gale is a runaway from Judge Horsmanden in New York City. Captured and jailed at Goshen in Orange County, James’s face carries the abrasions/scars of the horrors to which the enslaved were subjected. He has a large scar across his nose, several on his right temple and head, and a large bump on his forehead. James is 23. He and Kate are just two of the many who were subjected to violence and cruelty to make them stand in fear.

The gripping portrayal of Hudson Valley enslaved runaways cries out in silence for refuge. It is no different than the portraiture of that other larger Southern world of slavery, whose images continue to haunt the descendants of both the enslaved and the enslaver. The only difference is scale.

Hudson River Valley Map

Runaway Slave Ads from Hudson Valley

Source: Hodges and Brown, ed. Pretends to be Free (NY: Garland, 1994)

Instructions

  1. List the Hudson Valley towns and counties mentioned in the ads.
  2. List between three and five ways freedom seekers are identified in the ads.
  3. What conclusion (s) can you draw from the spelling and grammar in the ads?
  4. In Ad “D”, why does Chauncy Graham believe Cuff was added in his escape by a white man?
  5. In Ad “E”, Peter is described as a Mollatto or a Mullato. In your opinion, what does this tell us about Peter?
  6. According to Ad “F”, how was Tom able to get a “false Pass”?
  7. In Ad “J”, how was Sambo able to get a pass?
  8. Some of the freedom seekers pretended to be free. What does that tell us about the Hudson Valley at that time?

A. The New-York Gazette, Revived in The Weekly Post-Boy, #227, April 20, 1747. Run away from Theunis De Klerk of Tappan in Orange County, a Negro Man named Sippee, about 30 years of age, of a middle size, is well-set, speaks good and proper English, and has a hoarse voice: Had on when he went away, a brown short watch-coat, a light colour’d red Jacket, a white Jacket bound round the edges with some other colour, and a Felt hat cock’d up and flattened on the Crown. Whoever takes up said Negro and brings him to his Master, or unto William Vredenburgh of New York shall have 40s reward and all reasonable charges paid by Theunis De Klerk.

B. The New-York Weekly Journal, #253, October 2, 1738. Run away from Frederick Zepperly of Rheinbeck in Dutchess County Black Smith, a copper coloured Negro fellow named Jack, aged about 30 years, speaks nothing but English and has been much used to the Sea, Short of Stature, thin Face, strong bearded and hair longer than Negros commonly have and reads English, he had on when he went away an Orange Coloured Drugget Fly Coat somewhat faded, with brass Buttons a Homespun Linnen Coat, two striped Linsey Wolsey Waistcoats and two pair of Breeches the same also one pair of Leather Breeches a pair of Worsted Stockings and a pair of New Blew Yarn stockings, New square toes Shoes with Brass Buckles two homespun Shirts and a very good Hat. Whoever takes up said Run away and secures him so that his Master may have him again or gives notice of him to Henry Beekman, Esq or to John Peter Zenger shall have Forty Shilling reward and all reasonable Charges.

C. The New-York Gazette: or, The Weekly Post-Boy, #542, June 18, 1753. Run away on Sunday the 3rd day of May last, from Jacobus Bruyne, of Bruynswick, in county of Ulster and province of New York, a Negroe Man Slave, named Andrew, aged near 40 year, he is of middle Stature, black skin’d, speaks good English and Dutch: had on when he went away, a coarse Linnen jacket and Trowsers, old shoes and stockings, he has been formerly out of a Privateering with Capt. Tingley, and it is supposed he may attempt to get on board some Vessel carrying him off at their peril. Whoever takes up and secures Said Negroe, so that his master may have him again, shall have Forty Shillings reward, and all reasonable Charges paid by JACOBUS BRUYNE.

D. The New-York Gazette; or, The Weekly Post-Boy, #558, October 15, 1753. Run away on Sabbath Day evening, Sept. 2, 1753, from his Master Chauncy Graham, of Rumbout, in Dutchess County, a likely Negroe Man named Cuff, about 30 years old, well set, has had the Small Pox, is very black, speaks English pretty well for a Guinea Negroe, and very flippant; he is a plausible smooth Tongue Fellow. Had with him a pair of greenish plush breeches about two-thirds worn, and a Pair of russel ditto flowered green and yellow, two white shirts, two Pair of middling short Two Trowsers, one pair of Thread Stockings knit in Squares, one Pair of blue fine wool ditto flowered, one Diaper Cap, one white Cotton ditto, one blue Broad Cloth Jacket with red lining, one blue homespun coat lined with streak’d Lindsey Woolsey, or woolen &c. &c. &c. He is a strong Smoaker. ‘Tis supposed he was seduced away by one Samuel Stanberry, alias Joseph Linley, a white fellow that run away with him, and ‘tis very likely this white man has wrote the Negro a pass; for ‘tis said he has been in Norwalk in Conecticut, and passed there for a free Negro, by the name of Joseph Jennings, and that he was making toward the Eastward. Whoever shall take up and secure said Servant, so that his Master may have him again, shall have FORTY SHILLINGS New-York Money Reward, and all reasonable charges paid by CHAUNCY GRAHAM.

E. The New-York Gazette, Revived in The Weekly Post-Boy, #278, May 16, 1748. Run away the 8th of this instant, from Colonel Francis Brett of the Fish Kills, in Ulster County, a Mollatto slave named Peter, 20, 6 feet high, pretty fair for a Mullato but Negro hair, a scar over both his eyes had on a yellowish Fly Coat of a Broad Cloth, Leather Breeches, grey homespun Stockings, a Beaver Hat, a grey homespun Jacket, a Linnen Shirt, and a Tow Cloth Shirt. Whoever takes up said Negro, and gives Notice to his said Master, or to the Printer hereof,

F. The New-York Gazette: or, The Weekly Post-Boy, #635, March 3, 1755. Run away from the Heirs of Barent Van Cleek, of Poughkeepsie, deceased on Tuesday the 23rd Instant March, a Mulatto colour’d Man Slave named Tom, pock-broken, about 5 feet 10 inches high, a well set likely Fellow, plays well on the Fiddle, and can read and write; perhaps he may have a false Pass: Had on when he went away, a red plush breeches, a full trim’d Coat, a cloth Jacket, and it’s supposed several other clothes: took with him a bay Horse about 13 hands and a half high with a [ ] on his fore head, bridle and sadle: whoever takes up said Negroe, and delivers him to Poughkeepsie, or secures him in a goal, and gives notice thereof to Leonard Van Cleek, or Myndert Veile, of Duchess County, shall receive five Pounds Reward, and all reasonable charges paid by LEONARD VAN CLEEK and MYNDERT VEILE.

G. The New-York Gazette: or, The Weekly Post-Boy, #768, October 10, 1757. Run away from Caleb Ferris, of East-Chester, a Negro Man slave called Joe, aged about 25 years. He is a lusty well fed Fellow every Way, about five Feet Ten inches, thick shoulder’d full round Face, speaks altogether English, his Hair frizzled, being half Indian. He has been voyage privateering, and is a great Fiddler. He has a large Leg and broad Foot, and commonly wears Sailors Habit. He was born at Westchester, and sometimes pretends to be free. Whoever takes up the above described Slave, and will secure him so that his Master can have him again, shall have Six Pounds Reward, paid by CALEB FERRIS.

H. The New-York Gazette; or, The Weekly Post-boy, #1030, September, 30, 1762. Tappan, Sept. 26, 1762. RUN away last Sunday Evening, from his Master, in Orange County, Johannes Blauveldt, Blacksmith, a Negro Fellow, named as he says, Adonia, but by us Duca, he is a yellow Complexion, being a mixed Breed, speaks and reads pretty good Low Dutch, and speaks little English: is a very good Black Smith by Trade, and can make Leather Shoes, and do some thing at the Carpenters Trade, is about 5 and a half Feet high, full Faced, black Hair, but cut off about one Inch long, is 20 or 22 Years old, had on, when he went away, homespun Trowsers, Shirt, gray Waistcoat, and Felt Hat; took with him a check Shirt and Trowsers, a white Shirt and a Pair of blue Cloth Breeches, and one home spun Waist Coat, he had been whip’d the day before he went off, which may be seen pretty much on his right side, he pretends to be free, and perhaps will get a Pass for that Purpose.

I. The New-York Gazette; or, The Weekly Post-Boy, #1082, September 29, 1763. RUN AWAY FROM the subscriber, at Verderica Hook, in Orange County, about Thirty Miles from New-York, on Tuesday the Twentieth Instant, a Negro Man named Harry, about Thirty Years of Age, Five Feet and a Half high, pretty well set, black Complexion, full Faced, has not had the Small Pox, speaks good English and Dutch; two Fingers on his left Hand are somewhat stiff, so that he can neither straighten them, nor shut them close; bred to farming Business: – Had a coarse white Linen Shirt, ruffled at the Boson; a narrow brimmed, half Beaver Hat; a blue broad Cloth Coat, about half worn, four Inches too long waisted for him; a striped linsy Waistcoat, and wide striped Cotton Trowsers; had with him a Pair of grey Worsted, and a Pair of old white Woolen Stockings, and a Pair of very remarkably large broad rim’d Brass Buckles – He carried with him several other wearing Clothes, viz. Two checked Woolen Shirts, blue and white; One or Two Pairs of coarse narrow homespun Tow Trowsers; and had some Money with him, wherewith he may have purchased other Clothes. Whoever secures the said Negro, giving me Notice so that I get him again, shall have Forty Shillings reward, and all reasonable Charges paid by BENJAMIN KNAP.

J. The New-York Gazette; and the Weekly Mercury, #1097, November 2, 1772. Six Pounds Reward. RUN-away from Caleb Morgan, in East-Chester, the eighteenth day of October last, a negro man named Sambo, about 25 years of age, about five feet nine inches high, of a yellow complexion, pretty slim built, a sober looking fellow: Had on when he went away, a blue broad cloth coat, with red lining; a black Manchester velvet jacket without sleeves, a pair of buckskin breeches, and blue stockings, a good pair of thick shoes, two shirts, and an old felt hat; one of his fore fingers (the tip end) is bruised off, so that the skin grows fast to the bone; the other hand the middle finger is something crooked, so that he cannot open it so straight as the others. He talks very good English, and I believe he can talk Dutch, he being brought up among the Dutch the west side of north river. It is mistrusted that a white man has carried him away in order to make sale of him, or has given him a pass; the man’s name that is mistrusted is John Norris, about 30 years of age, often goes down to the Jerseys; perhaps he may have changed his name, he is a lusty man. If any person does discover any white man with the negro, and they have made sale, or does it to make sale of him, and takes up the white man with the negro, and secures them in any of his Majesty’s goals, so that I can come get my negro again, and the white man brought to justice, shall have the above reward; or Five Pounds, and reasonable charges, for the negro alone; paid by CALEB MORGAN.