Perspective: African American Life circa 1900

Students will explore the social, economic and technological changes of the early 20th century by:

Part 1

Examining the biographies of African Americans, employed as domestic workers at Maymont Mansion in Richmond, Virginia. Using information obtained in the biographies, students will complete a graphic organizer, analyzing the experiences of a specific individual; and

Part 2

Using a biography and additional independent research, students will create a museum exhibit about the individual they were assigned to research.

Education Standards



  1. Provide students with inquiry-based learning opportunities.
  2. Help students become familiar with primary and secondary sources
  3. Engage students through project-based learning.

Materials Needed / Time Required

Part 1
  1. Google folder for your class to use
  2. Student Page 1 – Each student should have access to this page in order to complete the activities and links to supplemental resources
  3. Curiosity Cultivation – Copy the slides into your folder and duplicate the 2nd slide (one for each student). Students will have access to the following job descriptions.
  4. Maymont Background – PowerPoint slides
  5. Vocabulary List
  6. Historical Figure Choice Board – the historical figure biographies with biographical graphic organizers are linked by their names in the choice board. Students should copy the organizers into the class or student Google folder before completing it in order to keep their responses private. 

Estimated time required: Approximately 55 minutes as written, but additional time can be spent with large or small group discussions. This lesson plan is compatible with a virtual learning model. 

Part 2
  1. Student Page 2 – in addition to the resources above, students will have access to additional resources in order to engage in this project based learning opportunity.
  2. Guiding Questions for students to use in the project type of their choice.
  3. Project Choice Board

Estimated time required: This project should take place over several class periods.

Lesson Plans and Student Activity Pages

Lesson Plan
Lesson Plan Part 1
Lesson Plan Part 2

Student Page 1
Student Page 2

Download all PDF files.

This program has been funded in part by a grant from Virginia Humanities. A special thank you to our curriculum experts who assisted in the development, editing and pilot implementation: Denise Gammon, History Educator  |  Hillary Parkhouse, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education  |  Ma’asehyahu Isra-Ul, Ed.S (C&I), K-12 Instructional Specialist-History/Social Science, Richmond Public Schools  |  Michael Hasley, Secondary Social Studies Specialist, Henrico County Public Schools  |  Gabriel Reich, Assistant Professor, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Education