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For Teachers

Lesson Plans

Researchers at the Georgetown Slavery Archive have designed three units of lesson plans for high school teachers to use and adapt to the needs of their individual classes:

- Slavery at School

- Slavery and Catholicism

- Putting a Human Face on the Domestic Slave Trade: The GU 272

Each unit is designed for five forty-minute class periods.

The units have been designed to adhere to the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm. Context, Experience, Reflection, Action, and Evaluation are crucial aspects of the lesson plans. Please find more information about each unit, including download links for the lesson plans and additional resources, below. 

Slavery at School

This unit invites students to learn about the history of slavery at select schools in the United States and how these schools taught the “science” of racial inferiority. This unit consists of lesson plans for five, forty-minute class periods (Lessons I-V). These lesson plans may be used in conjunction with Georgetown Slavery Archive’s curricular units “Slavery and Catholicism” and “Putting a Human Face on the Domestic Slave Trade.”

The goal is for students to work in collaborative groups to produce mini-presentations about US colleges and universities’ historical ties to slavery, and to learn how ideas and practices circulate from institutions of higher learning to secondary schools. Instructors may wish to ask students to produce original research into the history of their own school.

Lesson plan and corresponding Powerpoint

Slavery and Catholicism

This unit teaches students about the history of the Catholic Church and slavery in the United States. This unit consists of lesson plans for five, forty-minute class periods (Lessons I-V). These lesson plans may be used in conjunction with Georgetown Slavery Archive’s curricular units “Slavery at School” and “Putting a Human Face on the Domestic Slave Trade: The GU 272.”

The goal is for students to gain critical knowledge of the Catholic Church and Catholics’ contradictory roles during the age of American slavery. The students will choose from a variety of individual creative projects to respond to the history of the Catholic Church’s endorsement and participation in enslaving humans, including fellow Catholics.

Lesson plan and corresponding Powerpoint.

Putting a Human Face on the Domestic Slave Trade: The GU 272

This unit will introduce students to the history of the domestic slave trade through the lens of the "GU272," the community of people sold south by the Maryland Jesuits in 1838 to help finance Georgetown College. This unit consists of lesson plans for five, forty-minute class periods (Lessons I-V). These lesson plans may be used in conjunction with Georgetown Slavery Archive’s curricular units “Slavery and Catholicism” and “Slavery at School.”

The goal for the end of the unit is for students to write a three- to five-page research essay that attempts to humanize the narrative of the forced transport of enslaved people. Each homework assignment will help students complete the first, and then final, drafts of their essays.

Lesson plan and corresponding Powerpoint

A model

Since 2016, history teacher Ed Donnellan has led students at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, DC, on a journey of discovery about their own school's history of slavery. For a digital version of an exhibit prepared by Gonzaga student-historians, click on Searching for Truth in the Garden: Gonzaga's History With Slavery. For a volume of poems written by Gonzaga students in response to learning this history, click on Garden: Gonzaga Poets Respond to the Slavery Research Project.