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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > Maps of Liberia

[Detail] Map of Liberia. Lith. by E. Weber & Co., 1845.

Maps of Liberia, 1830-1870 affords students the opportunity to practice and develop their language arts skills. Through interviews with recent immigrants and mock interviews while role playing, students will develop skills in writing thoughtful, insightful surveys. By creating advertising copy for maps, students can develop their persuasive writing skills and practice targeting audiences. In writing a story of emigration, students can practice and develop their skills of writing from various points of view. In addition, students can chart a journey using the maps and then write stories or journal entries documenting that trip. Students also can write speeches that reflect their opinion on colonizing Liberia.

1) Interviews

One could imagine that the colonists settling in Liberia arrived filled with hope, fear, and uncertainty in this new land. Towards comprehending the Liberian colonists' experiences and emotions, students can interview recent immigrants to America. Perhaps their classmates, parents, or grandparents immigrated. Students could instead interview someone who recently moved into their hometown from another part of the United States.

Have the students develop questions and then conduct the interview. Continuing the study of maps, students can ask the interviewee if they looked at maps of their future home. What did they look for on the map? Did the map prepare them for what they found when they arrived? What surprises did they encounter?

Having gathered these first-person accounts of immigration, students can return to their study of Liberia with new insight. Have students assume the roles of African Americans either in Liberia or planning to emigrate. They can look at maps of Liberia as the immigrants they recently interviewed may have done by browsing the collection by Geographic Location. First-person accounts are also available in the Personal Stories and ACS New Directions section of African-American Mosaic.

Students can then interview one another revising the questions as necessary from their previous interview. Their answers should reflect what they gleaned from the maps as well as the experiences of the recent immigrants they interviewed. They can write up their interviews imitating the styles seen in American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940.

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