History, Media, and Culture: African American Soldiers in the Civil War

Instructional Resource

Grade Levels
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History, Media, and Culture: African American Soldiers in the Civil War

Instructional Resource

Representation in media is important.

In this Learning Lab, we will explore how the African American soldiers fighting in the Civil War are portrayed in two films: Glory (1989) and Lincoln (2012).

History X Media X Culture (HMC) is a series designed by the National Museum of African American History and Culture to teach students historical thinking skills of analysis and interpretation, and also media literacy by exploring historic and modern films about or created by African Americans.

What can we learn, and what do we learn about history from popular media? How does popular media influence our understanding of history? How does the history portrayed in popular media change from the historical account based on primary sources?

Furthermore, how are historical individuals and groups represented in popular media? How do these representations affect how we understand these historical persons and their modern-day descendants? How people are depicted on the screen influences our modern world. We must question and analyze what is said and shown in the media, and why it shown to us.

Your objectives are as follows:

1. Explore how the soldiers are represented in each film, and then compare the film’s portrayals.

2. Compare these representations to historical accounts and primary evidence.

3. Question why the changes were made in the film, and how do these changes affect our understanding of history and ourselves?

The movies contain images of the violence of war, carnage, and brief offensive languages.

The analysis questions are taken from the National Archives and Records Administration Document Analysis Worksheets, unless stated otherwise.