Browse By Migrations Geography Timeline Source Materials Education Materials Search
Return Migration to the South
Home Ties Lesson Plan
The narrative Return South Migration talks about many reasons why African Americans have returned to the South. Students will interview family members and find out what their ties are with their community. They then will use this information to compare other cultures and times with what they have learned about the African-American culture from the narrative. Finally, students will create a graph showing the class findings and then compare the class results with the information they have found within the narrative.
Grade Levels:Middle and high school, grades 6-12
For use with:Return South Migration
Concentration Area:History: U.S. Government
National Curriculum Standards met by this lesson
The standards for this lesson conform to those set by the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel).
Students will understand

  • How the Industrial Revolution, increasing immigration, the rapid expansion of slavery, and the westward movement changed American lives and led to Regional territories.
  • How slavery shaped social and economic life in the South after 1800 (e.g., how the cotton gin and the opening of new lands in the South and West led to increased demands for slaves; differences in the lives of plantation owners, poor free black and white families, and slaves; methods of passive and active resistance to slavery; escaped slaves and the Underground Railroad).
  • Different economic, cultural, and social characteristics of slavery after 1800 (e.g., the influence of the Haitian Revolution and the ending of the Atlantic slave trade, how slaves forged their own culture in the face of oppression, the role of the plantation system in shaping slaveholders and the enslaved, the experiences of escaped slaves).
  • How slavery influenced economic and social elements of southern society (e.g., how slavery hindered the emergence of capitalist institutions and values, the influence of slavery on the development of the middle class, the influence of slave revolts on the lives of slaves and freed slaves).
  • The social and cultural influence of former slaves in cities of the North (e.g., their leadership of African-American communities, how they advanced the rights and interests of African Americans).
  • Slavery prior to the Civil War (e.g., the importance of slavery as a principal cause of the Civil War, the growing influence of abolitionists, children's roles and family life under slavery).
Time required
Three class periods plus homework time.
Materials needed
Anticipatory Set

  1. Lead students in a discussion about modern migration, considering these questions:

    1. What ethnic groups have come to their area?
    2. When? Why? How?
    3. What makes a person or group of people migrate?
  2. Then, have students look at the references supplied in the narrative and try to extrapolate the main reasons people migrate. Students should understand that reasons for migration are universal and do not change with ethnicity, time, or location.

  1. After students have come up with their own categories of reasons for migration (which should be similar to these categories: political, economic, and familial), ask them to consider how they came to be where they are now. Have students brainstorm, as a class, questions to ask their families so they can better understand why their ancestors moved to the area they are in today.
  2. Tell students to ask their families the questions they came up with in class.
  3. Have students bring their answers to class and share their findings with their classmates. Ask students to discuss questionable answers to decide in which category each circumstance belongs.
  4. When the entire class has shared, post the results on the board and have students create a graph of their own choosing (line, bar, pie, etc). Then, have students discuss the following questions:

    1. What does the information suggest about the migrants that entered their area?
    2. What does the information suggest about the area in which they live?
    3. Does the time period that the migrations occurred mean anything?
    4. Can you identify a pattern within the types of people migrating or their reasons for migrating?
  5. Once students have thoroughly discussed the questions, ask them to create a Venn diagram. Using information from their discussion and research, have them compare the migration patterns of their own area to information they have found within the Return South Migration narrative.

Assess students in the following ways:

  1. Students will hand in a completed graph using the information shared with the class.
  2. Students also will complete a Venn diagram, which should include at least three points for each area.
  3. Class discussion should be taken into account for the students' grades.
Home About Glossary The New York Public Library
Privacy Policy | Rules & Regulations | Using the Internet | Website Terms & Conditions

© The New York Public Library, 2005.