On October 10, 2019, the Center for Innovation in Race, Teaching, and Curriculum (CIRTC) at The University of Texas at Austin launched the Teaching Texas Slavery Project, a new website that serves as a resource for educators, scholars, and the general public. Made possible in part by a Linden Heck Howell Texas History Grant from Humanities Texas, the Teaching Texas Slavery Project was designed by three faculty at UT Austin: Dr. Keffrelyn D. Brown, professor of cultural studies in education and cofounder of CIRTC; Dr. Anthony L. Brown, professor of curriculum and instruction in social studies education and cofounder of CIRTC; and Dr. Daina Ramey Berry, Oliver H. Radkey Regents Professor of History and associate dean of graduate education transformation.
The project’s open-access website provides primary source documents on the history of slavery in Texas. The project directors have held, and will continue to hold, workshops for teachers on how to use these resources in the classroom.
Through the website and workshops, the Teaching Texas Slavery Project seeks to provide K–12 teachers with the knowledge, tools, and resources needed to help them teach about slavery and its integral connection to race. The project website offers teachers frameworks and methods to discuss the complex relationship between slavery and race with their students, specifically within the context of U.S. and Texas history. Primary source documents, visual images, teaching tools, and a guide to assist teachers as they create lesson plans and unit study are also available online. The project team envisions the website serving as a resource for teachers, curriculum leaders, and others working in non-profit organizations like museums, community centers, and libraries as they seek to improve how they teach about slavery.
Among the records and documents available on the website are maps, ledgers, deeds, and newspaper ads related to slavery, all dating from the Antebellum Period. One document, the Peach Point Plantation Slave Ledger, lists births, baptisms, and deaths that took place on the plantation. Another, titled "Plantation Rules for Overseers," details guidelines for managing enslaved people. This source gives students not only a clear sense of slaveholders' attitudes towards slavery but also insight into the experience of enslaved people. Such sources—which include full transcriptions and are ready for teachers to use—are not otherwise easily accessed online. Additional primary source materials will be added to the website over time.
To date, the Teaching Texas Slavery Project has conducted workshops for K–12 teachers and curriculum specialists in three central Texas school districts and one private school in Austin. Participants work in social studies and humanities-based content areas with a focus on Texas history, U.S. history, or English. The team plans to offer workshops to an additional group of teachers working in private schools in the area and to present it as part of a program at a local central Texas museum.
Participants who have previewed the website and/or participated in the accompanying all-day workshop overwhelmingly indicated that they learned valuable knowledge about teaching Texas and U.S. slavery and race that they can incorporate into their classrooms. One participant said, "I was introduced to a wealth of knowledge from primary documents, excerpts, images, and slave ads that I will utilize in my classroom." The project team is encouraged by this feedback and looks forward to expanding this work to educators across the state of Texas.