Blacks in American history textbooks : a study of selected themes in post-1900 college level surveys.

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Mitchell, Reavis
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Middle Tennessee State University
This research surveys selected college level United States history textbooks published after 1900 to focus on several themes related to the treatment of black Americans in history textbooks. In the period after 1900, historians revealed that black Americans comprised an essential element in American history. The aim of this research is to examine the depiction of black Americans in United States history survey textbooks during three distinct periods of the nation's history. The targeted periods are the Reconstruction era, the vogue of Social Darwinism in America, and the era of the New Deal. This research examines textbooks to discover if the period when the textbook was written was significant to the author's presentation of black Americans.
A further consideration of this research was whether, with the passage of time and reaction to significant events, authors change their presentations. The image of black Americans has also been affected by the attitudes of textbook writers toward this minority group.
Teachers of the past, present, and future have the responsibility to discover whether textbooks contain statements that are unfair or biased against any racial or ethnic group. This research has also revealed that in all topics related to black Americans, classroom teachers must often direct students to read from supplemental sources to obtain a balanced view of black Americans. Teachers must endeavor to help students recognize that the legal and actual status of black Americans did not always coincide, and realize that, because of this, the historical conclusions presented should be based on various sources in order to obtain a true picture.