Classroom Resources


These modules are designed for teachers and students to be able to access and interpret primary sources found at the Library of Florida History. The Florida Historical Society has, for over a century, collected and preserved original documents and records relating to the history of Florida. Yet, the use of original documents in the classroom is often hindered by access to vetted archival repositories. This is an ongoing effort by the Florida Historical Society to create thematic modules which teachers and students are encouraged to download and use in the classroom. These modules are designed for students in grades 4-12, but can be adapted for use in both lower and upper levels. Many of these documents can be utilized outside of the social studies curriculum to connect history with other disciplines.

The first three modules in this classroom series were created with financial assistance through a grant from the Florida Council of Social Studies Endowment Board. Special thanks to Heather Pierce for creating much of the content for these first three modules.

*All documents are housed at the Florida Historical Society Library of Florida History unless otherwise noted. 

Slavery in Florida

As early as the 16th century when Europeans began coming to Florida’s shores, slaves have been an important component of the cultural and social dynamic of the state. By the time Florida became a United States territory in 1821, slavery had become an integral part of the Middle Florida plantation economy. The system of African slavery in Florida was more closely related to other southern states of the time leading up to the American Civil War however. Florida has become part of the great cotton belt which produced a large quantity of the country’s cotton from this slave labor system. This module will focus on the decades leading up to 1861 when slavery had reached its pinnacle in Florida. Students will read and discuss primary documents relating to the institution of slavery in Florida. Each document is accompanied by suggested review questions that will help students engage with the documents in a meaningful way.


The Civil War Soldier

The Civil War was the bloodiest conflict on American soil. Florida was deeply involved in every aspect of the conflict. Thousands of Floridians fought for both the Union and Confederate Armies and Navies. The primary catalyst for war was the election of President Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Many Floridians feared President Lincoln would abolish slavery, thus upsetting the social and economic system of the state.  At the center of this large-scale conflict was the Civil War soldier. Of the thousands of Floridians that went off to war, many never returned. This module focuses on the day to day experiences of soldiers fighting in and outside of Florida’s boundaries, as well as the toll paid by family members these soldiers left behind. Students will be able to build on their previous understanding of the Civil War with supplemental primary materials from those who experienced the conflict first hand.


Reconstruction in Florida

The Civil War official ended in April of 1865, yet the county had been torn apart both literally and figuratively. Much of the infrastructure and economy in the southern states were devastated. Tens of thousands of wounded soldiers struggled to return home and return to civilian life but the problem of readmitting the Confederate state back into the Union was complicated and fraught with difficulty. For years after the last shots were fired, many former Confederate states including Florida were under military rule. Politicians from the north occupied public posts which angered many former Confederates. The documents contained in this module examine some of the challengers brought about by Reconstruction. Students will examine firsthand accounts of Reconstruction efforts in Florida from a variety of different angles. Challenge students to understand all sides of this complex part of American history.