Essential Question:
What were the effects on the colonies and the nation of the denial, curtailing, and expansion of civil rights for diverse groups of Americans?

Guiding Questions:
What changes occured on Beacon Hill from the late 1700's-1860 for men, women, children (black and white)?
How did the lives of African-Americans change after the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts in 1783? (Driscoll)
How did African-Americans' views of themselves change after the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts?

Massachusetts History Framework Standards: 5.31
Describe the significance and consequences of the abolition of slavery in the northern states after the Revolution and of the 1808 law that banned the importation of slaves into the United States.


Pam Zelaya Draft lesson
February 4 Draft lesson
March 11 semi-final Version Content & Process Rubric


  1. Students will locate and understand differences in the Beacon Hill neighborhood in the 1800's.
  2. Students will look at school books from 1800's to assess education.
  3. Students will describe leisure activities of the era from archaeological findings.

Using the lives of 3 generations of the Roberts family, students will look at how the abolition of slavery had an impact on their lives in Boston.
1857: Robert Roberts published The House Servant Directory

Advertisement for purchase of The House Servant Directory in Essex Register, Salem, MA

Connectors: 1820s, Roberts worked for Appleton and Kirk Boott, the powerful Lowell textile mill owner.
- wrote articles for Liberator

Benjamin Roberts(son of Robert Roberts) a printer, also a publisher of the Anti-Slavery Herald and in 1853 The Self Elevator

Sarah Roberts(daughter of Benjamin Roberts) in 1848 Sarah Roberts vs. Boston

Primary Source Documents and Artifacts:
School: School books, primer, (1800-1850) from school for black and white children in Beacon Hill neighborhood.
Description of Smith School
Leisure activity: We are hoping to find artifacts that people (men, women and/or children used in their leisure. Toys, dolls, equipment, songs, poems, anything depicting leisure activities for both blacks and whites on Beacon Hill in 1800-1850. (Geared to children)
Maps: Beacon Hill, Boston Fire Maps, Bostonian Society, shows changes in Boston's physical space and demographics.
Closeup of Belknap Street, Beacon Hill, 1852
Belknap Street, Boston 1852

Microtexts: City of Boston (1800-1850) newspaper articles related to the education of blacks and whites.
Rare Books: We are hoping to find any broadsides or diaries that capture the look and feel of education for blacks and whites on Beacon Hill in 1800-1850. i.e. Colored American Magazine or Boston Illustrated

BPL images:


1) J.G. Hale 1814 Map of Boston Available January, 2009 (Leventhal Map Room)

2) McIntyre Map of Boston. S. Robert's Andover Street, available online. (Leventhal Map Room)

3) Pinney Plan of Boston. S. Robert's residence (Leventhal Map Room)

4) 1867, 1st Sandborne map. Andover Street. S. Robert's residence (Leventhal Map Room)

Boston Schools and Primers from BPL Rare Books

Village Reader pg8

Village Reader pg 9

Village Reader pg10

Village Reader, What is Education? Lesson LXXXIX (79)
Education pg 184

Education pg 185

Education pg 186

Education pg 187

Primary Schools of the City of Boston (1850)

District 2 & 3

district 4 5 6

districts 7 8 9

districts 10 11 12

footer note: Schools for colored children

Charles Theo Russell school petition (August 29, 1849) - XbH.A849.R91R BPL Rare Books

refers to Belknap Street school


Selected Articles from Garrison's The Liberator
Selected articles from the Liberator

Smith School, Belknap Street [Letter to Editor]
Justice September 2, 1842. Page 139.

The Public Schools
C. Starbuck Jun 5, 1846. Page 89.

Constitutionality of Separate Colored Schools
Charles Sumner Feb 1, 1850. Page 18.

The Smith School [Letter to Editor Criticizing W.C. Nell]
Thomas Paul Smith February 15, 1850. Page 27.

Mass Historical Society

The Meeting House School (1843) located in Smith Court on Beacon Hill, was one of the segregated schools for African American students, including young William Nell and Sarah Roberts. Courtesy of The Bostonian Society/Old State House
What is the primary source? What's the MA Hist connection?

Museum of the African American History, Boston and Nantucket
Learning from the past: Revisiting the Abiel Smith School 1835-1855 (Slide Show)

Students will be able to analyze what life was like for African Americans living in Massachusetts before and after the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts from the American Revolution to the early 1800s.

Driscoll Draft Lesson

Students will examine interpret the 1783 Quock Walker ruling that effectively ended slavery in Massachusetts. They will determine if the ruling changed the lives African Americans as well as how Africans viewed themselves.

Massachusetts Historical Society; African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts
The Struggle for Freedom

Massachusetts Historical Society; African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts
Revolutionary Participation

Massachusetts Historical Society; African Americans and the End of Slavery in Massachusetts
The Lives of African Americans in Massachusetts after the End of Slavery

Oxford African American Studies Center
Cuffe, Paul

Oxford African American Studies Center
Roberts, Robert

Massachusetts Studies Project Timeline

A Chronology of African American Military Service From the Colonial Era through the Antibellum Period

Primary Source Documents an d Artifacts:
Bill of sale signed by Benjamin Dolbeare as administrator of the estate of Nathaniel Loring to Benjamin Williams regarding Boston (a slave), 1 June 1774

Images from the collections of the
Massachusetts Historical Society.
This is a selection from a legal notebook kept by William Cushing, the chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, regarding the case of Quock Walker (1783). The jury found in favor of Walker, a slave who ran away from his master (Nathaniel Jennison) in 1781

Image from the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Assessment Questions:
Items assembled by Zelaya, D'Osri, a nd Driscoll