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FRASER in the Classroom: Teach U.S. History Using Primary Documents - Econ Lowdown Webinar Series, Episode 5

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In this session of the Econ Lowdown webinar series, presenters from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis discuss strategies for using primary documents in the classroom. Learn from this webinar how to access historic letters, maps, and government documents to illustrate specific events or larger trends using the FRASER website, which is an economic history digital library.


Below is a full transcript of this video presentation. It has not been edited or reviewed for accuracy or readability.

Denise Davis: Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s econ lowdown webinar. Our discussion for today focuses on FRASER in the classroom teaching US history using primary documents. I am Denise Davis with the St. Louis Fed and I’ll be your facilitator. We’ve got an outstanding lineup of presenters here today, also from the St. Louis Fed. Allow me to introduce Jane Davis and Eva Johntson. Now, please join me on slide two and I’ll cover the call logistics.

If you haven’t already done so yet, click on the webinar link you received after registering. This option offers a few benefits. You can watch the slides as they’re advanced. You can type questions to us, download the session materials, or even choose to listen to the audio through your PC speakers. Please note that the webinar performance is dependent upon your connection. So if at any time you’re having problems, just pick up the phone and dial the toll free number. If you have questions today, you can submit them at any time by clicking on the ask question button in the webinar tool. Be sure to keep your mouse handy throughout the webinar as we will be asking you to participate in some polling questions later on.

One additional note. The views expressed in this presentation are those of the presenters and they are not the official opinions of, nor binding on the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, nor the Federal Reserve System. Now, with all of that out of the way, let me welcome our first presenter, Jane. Take it away.

Jane Davis: Hi, I’m Jane Davis, no relation to Denise, and I am the digital library projects coordinator for the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. That fancy title means that I’m the one who’s in charge of FRASER, and I’m going to be here today and give you a brief introduction to FRASER and what sort of primary source documents you can find. Then Eva will talk about how to use them in your classroom. So if we could look – oh, here we go. We’re on the right slide. So quickly I wanted to go into, just in case you’ve been living under a rock for the last 100 years and you don’t know what the Federal Reserve is. I’m going to give you a brief rundown of the Federal Reserve System.

So the Fed is the central bank of the United States. It consists of 12 regional Federal Reserve banks and the board of governors, which is in Washington DC. The board is an independent government agency, and each of the 12 banks are private separate corporations that have their own president and are not a part of the government. Then the last but not the least important piece of this Federal Reserve puzzle is the Federal Open Market Committee, or the FOMC as the cool kids call it. That is the major policy making body for the system. It is composed of the bank presidents and board governors plus the chair, and the FOMC you hear most about in the news is when Janet Yellen gets on the radio and talks about things.

So let’s get into our next slide and we’ll see what FRASER is. So FRASER is the online digital library for the Federal Reserve System. When we first started, the letters stood for something important. It actually stood for Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research. But as we’ve gotten bigger and expanded our base, we’re a little less focused on just archival stuff and less focused on just economic stuff. So we are a subject specific digital library that focuses on economic, banking, and financial history. We collect documents, economic data, policy documents, and archival resources from the Fed system, government entities, historical societies, universities and anybody else who wants to give us their stuff.

Basically, if it’s by the Fed, about the Fed, or tangentially related to the Fed, we try to digitize it and make it available to the public for free. On the next slide, you can see some of the institutions we’ve partnered with. So one of the things that makes FRASER pretty interesting is unlike a lot of digital libraries, we didn’t have a massive corpus of documents hiding out in the basement that needed to be digitized and made available to the public. We had a very tiny, tiny pile of documents that we digitized and then we started asking around for the rest of them.

So in order to build our collection, we do have to make partnerships with other entities. So we worked with a GPO, the government printing office. We’ve worked with all 12 of the banks and the boards, the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records. We’ve been doing some really entertaining stuff with them lately. Then a number of universities and historical sites. Two of those, we’ve got a new donation that just came in and is going to be finished up hopefully soon, from the University of Oklahoma for the papers of Robert L. Owen who was the co-creator of the Federal Reserve Act. Also one of the first Native American senators in the United States Senate. So he’s kind of a neat dude.

Then we also have the papers of William McChesney Martin who was chair for the longest. He beat out Alan Greenspan by about eleven months and his papers came from the Missouri History Society. So on our next slide, let’s see what FRASER looks like. So FRASER has been around since 2004, and when you’ve been around that long, you get really good at changing stuff. One of the things that we change pretty regularly is our website. If you had stopped in any time before 2015, you would have seen a lovely wall of text because that was the thing you did on the internet in the mid 2000s. We stopped doing that. We’ve gone more graphic and it’s lovely. So basically we decided a couple years ago that we needed to both overhaul our website and overhaul our metadata, and in doing those two things, we were able to offer a lot of new features to our users that we had been unable to do beforehand.

We’ll go into some of those today in addition to some of our documents. So one of the interesting things on the new webpage is we have our Twitter is available there on the right-hand side. You can always follow us at FedFRASER on Twitter. We try to be as interesting as we can. We can’t be all snappy and witty like the Smithsonian because we are the Fed. But we do our best. So there’s always something interesting on our Twitter feed. So I think we’re getting ready to have a polling question.

Denise Davis: Yes, that’s right. Just as a quick reminder, if you have a question, just simply press the ask question button and you can submit that question to us at any time throughout the presentation. Now let’s jump into our polling question. You should see it popping up on your screen there and I will read it out loud. Have you heard of Zotero? A, yes, I use it all the time. B, yes, I use it when I remember to. C, I think so, I created an account, but I don’t need to use it very much. Or D, Zo-what? Go ahead and make your selection and I’ll give you just a moment. Okay, I’m going to go ahead and stop the poll and I’m going to show those results to our audience here. Oh, wow. All right.

Jane Davis: Well, that works out great. So one of the things that we try to do with FRASER to check out our success rate is we track citations in scholarly publications. We noticed when we were doing our redesign that a lot of the people who were citing us in scholarly publications weren’t doing it very well. That is because style guides aren’t good at telling people how to cite digital things, and the other part is it’s hard and nobody likes to do it. So we thought we would add in information on how to cite things through Zotero.

So Zotero is a citation management system. It’s a free software and you can either download it or you can use it on the web, or you can use it through an extension in Chrome and Firefox. Basically what it does is as you navigate through the internet and find lovely things that you want to keep and think about for later, you can easily download the full citation for that document, article, webpage, interview, what have you, into your Zotero database, and it lives there for as long as you want it to live there. Then you can do wonderful things with it. I’ll go into a little bit of that here in a second.

So if you are on FRASER and you were zooming around and saw this really awesome book called Know Your Rights: What a Working Wife Should Know About Her Legal Rights, from 1965, which is incredibly entertaining and fun, and you wanted to keep it for further research. If you see, circled in red, there’s a little blue book. Depending on how good your eyes are, you can tell it’s a book, or it’s just a blob. If this were a speech, it would look like a little tiny microphone. If it were a letter, it would look like an envelope, and if it’s an article or a journal article, it looks like just a piece of paper.

So if you click on that, that’s going to put all the citation information for this book into your Zotero database. It will either pull up on the website and ask you which collection you want to stick it in, or if you have your client open, it will just put it in the collection that you’re currently in. So on our next slide, we’ll see what this gives you when you put it in Zotero. So to our far left, you see the basic citation information, and all of this is captured by the metadata we’ve generated for the document on FRASER. So it has the title, the author, a short title, URL, any sort of publication information that might be available. We put all that in and it comes out in Zotero.

Then as you’re using the document, and you may want to cite it and talk more about it and think about it and capture pieces of it. When I do my personal research, I do a lot of my stuff on the digital format for the PDF in my PDF viewer. I like a quote so I highlight it and I save it for later and all of that. So with Zotero, if I do that, I just highlight it and I don't know if anyone can read that. But it says, ‘Can your husband mortgage the family furniture as security for a loan without your consent?’ Then there’s some more text. I highlighted that in the PDF document and then I exported that back to Zotero through a plug-in. It extracted out my highlights and it extracted out the page numbers.

So you can have 16, 20, however many citations you want in a PDF document and it’ll capture where they are in the document and then put that in your Zotero. So when you’re writing your paper later on, you can see that and know, oh yeah, that was on page ten. So you can cite it properly. Then the other two pieces of this puzzle are the tags, which are populated by the FRASER subject headings. You can add in your own personal tags. So if you want to keep track of your research in a specific way, you can add in tags based on that. Then at the bottom is the related tab, which shows you – you can add in other books and articles that you have that you’re working on that you think are important or related to it. You can flag them and tag them and stick them next to each other.

On our next slide, you’ll see what you can get out of Zotero once you’ve played with it. So on the left, we have the report that you can generate from Zotero. It has all your bibliographic information and your tags, your notes, and your related stuff. You can do this one by one for independent documents in Zotero, or you can do it for an entire collection. So if you’re like me and you have 697 things in your Zotero library, you can highlight them all and make a report that is very, very, very long. You probably wouldn’t want to do that. It might be madness. Or you can export out citations in the selected formats that you so choose and put them into your Word documents as you’re writing your paper.

There’s also a Word plug-in that you can connect your Zotero account to your Word documents. Then from within Word automatically populate citations as you’re writing. The best part about Zotero is it’s not style guide specific. So if you have a professor that tells all of your students to write in APA, or you will fail every one of them, you can easily set it up that APA is the style for Zotero for those kids. Then when next year, the history professor prefers Turabian or Chicago and tells them they’ll all fail, you can just convert it to Turabian or Chicago and no one is any wiser. It’s lovely and it’s fabulous.

On our next slide, we’ll look at some of the other added features that we have. I know I mentioned earlier our Twitter. We do try to cover as much interesting stuff as we can in our Twitter. But sometimes 140 characters is extremely limiting, especially when you want to get into more interesting things like we have in FRASER. So we decided to add in a series of articles called Inside FRASER that come out twice a month. You can find them on our website under the tab Inside FRASER, or you can go directly to These, we try to focus on interesting things, staff picks, how to use documents in FRASER, how to use tools in FRASER. We have one on primary sources and letters, which I’m going to show you here in a second. We have a number of different things that explain how we do librarian things. So if you’re really bored and you want to read about how we do digitization projects, you can find those inside FRASER. On our next slide, we’ll show you some examples.

So on the left is a staff pick, highlighting a letter from Ms. Joy, who was a research assistant to the board in 1928. She was very, very, very, very smart and very tired of not being thought smart. So she sent a memo to the board telling them that their cost of living index was messed up and dumb and they needed to fix it. So they did, and she actually ended up working for the Bureau of Economic Advisors and then came back to the Fed later before she retired. But she’s quite the wily one. So her papers are entertaining to read. Then on the right, we have an article on how to use letters as a primary source, and the sample of the letter is an example from Montague Norman, who was the governor of Bank of England in the 1920s. It’s to Benjamin Strong, who’s the president of New York Fed. Remember these names. You’ll hear them again.

Strong was frequently ill because he had tuberculosis. So many of his friends and peers in the international banking world commented on his health in the letters to him. This letter mentions Norman would like to give Strong the elixir of life, to restore him to health. Not because he likes him a lot, but also because the world needs him to be healthy. Remember this. We’ll come back to this in a moment.

Then our last new feature isn’t really a new feature, but it’s something we decided to do that was a little different than how we’d done it. So on our next slide, we’ll see that. FRASER had always had themes, but in the past, because we didn’t have the ability to have subject headings, our themes were more big buckets that we could put things that were about the same topic. Once we get subject headings, we realized that was kind of not necessary anymore. We wanted to do something a little bit more thoughtful and reasoned with our themes.

The themes now are curated collections that highlight the important documents in FRASER in the theme. Let’s go to the next slide. We’ll see the details. In the themes, we have a little bit of information about the topic, related links to resources outside the Fed and FRASER on the topic, and then the related subject headings. We try usually to select five to ten, sometimes even 20 or 30 documents. They’re what we consider the best documents that are to be looked at and can get you a good start.

This one, if you can see it. I don't know how closely you can read, but one of the related links is Barbie in the Workforce. It’s a fabulous example of econ ed using FRASER resources to teach a lesson with Barbie and the Bureau of Women’s Labor Statistics. So look for that one. That one is awesome. On our next slide, I think – oh, before the next slide, we actually have a polling question.

Denise Davis: Yeah, we do. So you should see that question popping up on your screen there. I’ll read it out loud, but go ahead and make your selection. How frequently do you use primary source documents in your classes? A, all the time. Here’s a letter from George Washington to illustrate how important primary sources are. B, where it is appropriate to the lesson. C, I know I should but they are so hard to find. Or D, our textbooks haven’t been updated since the 1950s so they count as primary sources, right? Go ahead and make your selection and I’m going to go ahead and stop that poll now, and I will show the results to the audience. See it popping up there. Okay, it looks like 60% say B, where it is appropriate to the lesson, and 40% say all the time. Here’s a letter from George Washington to illustrate how important primary sources are. Back to you, Jane.

Jane Davis: Okay, that’s great. So very quickly we’re going to go through some of the kinds of things you can find in FRASER, then I’ll let Eva get a hold of you and let you know how to use these things. So on our new slide, we have images from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. So we do have a lot of stuff that isn’t Fed stuff. Bureau Labor of Statistics bulletins are a prime example. They covered everything from flesh necrosis from phosphorous in plants to dust explosions when people were processing flour, to house plans of company housing in the 1920s. Then just your regular old wages and labor statistics from how people were paid.

Our collection of the BLS bulletins runs from 1885 to 1984 and we’re currently adding more as we speak. So this is one of my favorite documents from the BLS bulletins because I love house plans and it makes me very happy. But this is an example of a house that you could have if you were a coal miner in Kentucky, and your students can look at this and examine maybe why coal miners in Kentucky in 1924 didn’t have indoor plumbing and why they ended up paying $8 a month for a house with no indoor plumbing.

On our next slide, we’ll see a couple more examples from the BLS. One of the things BLS did really well in addition to statistics is infographics. These guys wrote the book on infographics. So on our left, we have a lovely – I don't know if lovely is the right word. But it’s definitely illustrative of the kinds of accidents that happened in pulp wood logging operations. As you can see, legs and hands were really, really, really at risk. Eyes and toes, not so much. But the rest of you, kind of out there. Then on the right side, this is the infographic with building of urban residential buildings, and it starts in 1921 and it goes to 1929. You can possibly see why there was such a drop off there towards the end, and your students could possibly discuss the impact of the Great Depression building.

So on our next slide, we have things that are not by the BLS. We actually have the historic economic data, which is really useful in giving students a sense of real time experiences during economic booms or financial crisis. FRASER has a really large collection of these things. On the right, we have economic indicators from the Council of Economic Advisors, otherwise known as average family income there at the top. There’s a lot of things going on here, but you can have your students try and figure out why maybe the average family income increased from 1935 to 1946. Then on the left-hand side is yet again something from the BLS and it is the consumer price index. So students can see how consumer prices change over time.

If you’re tired of data and you want policy, our next slide will go there. One of the things, because we’re with the Fed, we do have a lot of Fed documents. We have tons and tons of different meetings, annual reports, those kinds of things. This is an example from the FOMC minutes, and my boss loves to say that if you see a telephone conversation listed in the FOMC minutes, you know something important has happened. This is from October 20, 1987. Hopefully your students would know why they would have a telephone conference on October 20, 1987, and if they don’t, they could read and see what the board and the FOMC wanted to do about the Black Monday crash.

On our next slide, we’ll look at the bankers. So we have speeches from – we have 120 statements and speeches from Federal Reserve Bank presidents. We have the collected speeches of all the chairs of the Federal Reserve board. We don’t have all their years, but we do have an example from every one of them. These speeches can show you a little bit more about what the policy makers were thinking, how they thought about things and how they talked about policy before it became policy.

On our next slide, we’ll get into the congressional stuff. So we currently have over 370 congressional documents ranging from nomination hearings to board examinations, and hearings on financial crises and laws regulating the Fed, banking industry and so forth. This is one about the Fed centennial and it’s very entertaining. On our next slide, we will look at some more traditional primary sources.

So you remember how I mentioned that we have some archival collections? We actually have more than some. We have almost 40 archival collections that have been digitized from a number of different repositories, including personal papers of really important people and even some new stuff. We’ve just added a collection from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission on the recent financial crisis. So we do have some new stuff as well. Do you remember how I mentioned that you need to pay attention to Montague Norman and Ben Strong? Here’s the letter again. On the left, it is Ben Strong’s reply to Montague Norman’s request for an elixir of life to help save him, and he said that if he found it, he should give it to those poor boys and slanders. So you can get a little bit more linking to the real world stuff as well as policy and talking back and forth in these letters.

Then the other letter is from Charles Hamlin who was the first Fed chair who was very fond of apples. Your students might need to know that, not sure. But it’s very entertaining to me so I thought I would throw it in. Then our last slide or next to last slide gets into the Fed publications. So each bank has a research team and an economist on that research team that produce a large amount of documentation and articles to help explain the economic situation in the region and throughout the nation. And this is an example from the econ focus from the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. It gets into high school dropouts, raising the minimum wage, geography and unemployment, and the hawk dove concept in the Federal Reserve System.

Then we also have historic publications as well. We have things from the FDIC, Treasury, and even the budget of the United States. We have the commercial financial chronicle, which was the Wall Street Journal of its time, from 1871 to 1935. Then we have these adorable cartoons from the judge that get into the free silver movement. On the next slide, because there’s historic discussion of the economy and economics without going from gold and silver and back again, I will switch over to Eva and let her talk to you about the silver.

Eva Johnston: Thanks Jane. I’m Eva Johnston and I’m a senior economic education specialist here at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. If we look at the next slide, you will see that the judge cartoon indeed is one that the econ ed team has used as a resource to create lessons for U.S. history classrooms. This cartoon is just one small piece of the lesson about the free silver movement and inflation. This lesson also includes a great activity and an inflation auction. So I encourage you to go to the next slide and click on the FRASER education page. Because when you do, you’re going to find that on the FRASER education page, it’s quick access to history that’s related to educational resources, and it shows at all levels.

If you look, you can see to the right of each column that it gives you the grade level and it gives you the title of the various lessons. That first lesson, if you have fantastic eyes, you can see it says 75 years of American finance. That is one that is really good. It’s not included in this presentation. So I encourage you to go and look, because you will see the best timeline of U.S. history from 1861 to 1935 that you’ve ever seen. So please check it out. Hey, Denise. Do we have a polling question?

Denise Davis: Yeah, we do. So you should see that popping up on your screen there. So go ahead and grab your mouse, and I will read it out loud. Do you currently or in the future plan to teach about the Great Migration? A, yes, or B, no. Go ahead and make your selection, and I’m going to stop that poll. I’ll go ahead and show the results here. All right, it looks like 75% say yes, they currently do or plan to teach about the Great Migration.

Eva Johnston: Excellent, thank you Denise. Please go to the next slide because I would like to share with everyone a lesson that we have about the Great Migration. Now, this lesson was drawn from resources in FRASER. For those of you who are familiar with C3, I have a basic compelling question of should the migrants migrate or not? So if you think, well, why should people do the Great Migration? Well, let’s look. If you’re already teaching about this, know that there’s basic information. But what you’ll get with this is primary source documents that students can use.

So let’s see how this lesson is different. Look at the next slide. One of the things that I found as a U.S. history teacher, that often economics were a huge part of why history came to be. So what you can do with this lesson is you get an opportunity to incorporate some economic concepts like supply and demand, the factors of production, surplus, shortage, scarcity, opportunity cost, and your students will get a chance to use the PACED decision making model. Now, if we look at the next slide, you’ll realize – I’ll come back to that PACED model. You’ll know that it is something that’s cross curricular, and it will help in more understanding. So as we look at our next slide with the objectives here, here’s what your students will get from doing this lesson.

They will have an opportunity to view primary source documents, but they get to look at it from a certain perspective. I think walking in somebody else’s shoes is one of those things that’s very useful. It’s a good way to bring history alive for your students. So they also get a chance to describe how the groups differed in their viewpoint about the Great Migration. They’ll get to analyze the Great Migration using this PACED decision model. They’ll also analyze the changes that took place in the north and the south because of the Great Migration, and they’ll recognize the economic and social factors that contributed to the Great Migration. So they’ll be actually applying those economic concepts.

As we look at the next slide, you’ll see the perspectives that I’m talking about. Dividing it up into six perspectives, three from the north and three from the south. The three from the north are as an industrialist, an immigrant worker, and as an agent. The three southern perspectives are as the migrant, a farmer, and a planter. When we look at the next slide, you’ll see so that they can do good comparison. I have parallel questions that they can use. So there’s only three questions for each side. So from the northern perspective, if you look, the first question is what are the factors that caused a shortage in supply of labor in the north? Then look, from the south, they’re looking at what caused a surplus in the supply of labor in the south.

So as you see there, they are parallel questions. The second question is virtually the same for both. Then the third question from the northern perspective, they’re looking at okay, so what impact did the Great Migration have on the supply of workers in the north? For the southern perspective, they’ll be looking at what changes and conditions are evident in the south after the Great Migration for those who stayed behind?

Now as we look at the next slide, here’s a basic description about what your students will be doing and how you’ll get them started. One thing, this is something that requires the students to work together in groups to assume these perspectives. As a former teacher, I know that sometimes students don’t want to do group work. One of the things that really makes it less onerous and more fun for everyone is that if everybody has a job to do and there are roles that are assigned. So there are different roles laid out in the lesson that they can use. What the students will be doing is reading excerpts from these primary source documents. Then they will put together a perspectives page, answering those three basic questions. They’ll write it up on big white paper and put it up on the wall so they can do a gallery walk and go around, not just focused on their one perspective, but they’ll get to see the perspective from each of the other five groups.

In doing so, they’ll get to discuss the economic concepts and then they’ll pull together and see what they’ve come up with on their PACED decision making model. So if we look at the next slide, just in case you’re not familiar with this PACED decision model, I want to give it a shout out because this is a great cross curricular tool. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s time. It will make it worth your while to listen just to know this model today.

It’s a five step model and the first one is to define a problem. Second is to list the alternatives. Third is to choose the criteria. Fourth is to evaluate the alternatives, and lastly, make a decision. As we look at the next slide, you see how you would draw it out in graphic form. This particular graphic is included in each of the six group packets of information. As you can see, to define the problem is something that will be the same for everyone. They’re going to – because they’re going to be deciding, should I stay or should I go? Even though each of the six groups, only one of those six groups will be the migrant group, they will all be completing the PACED decision making model from the point of view of the migrant, since only the migrants were making the choice. Everybody else is just weighing in and having a viewpoint about that particular choice.

How does that work, anyway? Well, let’s look at the next slide and let me give you some more of the nuts and bolts. So you don’t have to worry about drawing the grid. It’s going to look like the one we just saw. But what we do need to know is figure out what are the alternatives, all right? Thinking about what the alternatives are, one thing you have to realize is basically they have three. They’re going to be deciding, should they move? Should they stay? Should they just move within the south? So your students will pretty much figure that out. When they think about the criterion that would go across the top, those criterion are going to be things that they will pull out of the reading and see, okay, this is what they’re talking about. This is what was important to the group.

Now, all of the groups will have baseline information where they’ll be able to pull this out. So that should work for them pretty cleanly. If we look onto the next slide, you’ll be able to see how the PACED model works, let’s look at the key for the PACED model. So they can see what it will look like once they plug in their information. One of the things that’s nice about this is that it really allows them to apply the terminology, some of the economic terminology. One of those key terms is opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is the next best alternative. It’s what is given up.

So in looking at this, we’re trying to think, what would be the opportunity cost for migrants? And I think I see a slide that’s stuck. Denise, will the slide advance? Or are we stuck right now? Because we’re supposed to be on the next one.

Denise Davis: Yeah, we’re refreshing it right now.

Eva Johnston: Okay, well, everybody sit tight because you’re going to have the new slide up soon and have your mouse ready because we’re going to be doing a polling question real quickly here. So be ready to go, and just in case the auditory was not enough, we’ll have the PACED guide up for you shortly and see what those things are. Once again, there are several economic terms that pop up in the reading and that’s one of the things I’ve found very enjoyable about looking at this.

This is something as a former U.S. history teacher, I know that you have so much to do and so much material to cover, if you will, that I enjoy taking the time to dig into these two books and pull out the documents. What you’re going to be seeing shortly here are documents that I pulled out of two specific writings. One of them as you’ll see pretty soon is from the writings of Emmett Scott, and he wrote a book called Negro Migration During the War. Emmett Scott – oh, here we go. We’re back on track. Okay, well, I’ll just hold that thought with Emmett Scott and we’ll let you do a polling question.

Denise Davis: All right. So grab your mouse. I’m going to go ahead and push the poll out to you, and the question is, what was the opportunity cost for the migrants? A, don’t move. B, move to the north, or C, move within the south. So go ahead and make your selection now. I’ll give you just a moment, and I’m going to stop that poll and show the results. All right, and it looks like 60% say B, move to the north, and 40% say C, move within the south.

Eva Johnston: Okay, let’s go over the polling question. This is one where pictures are very important. We’ll look at that. Because as the polling question closes, before we go on, let’s look. The next best alternative is what was given up. So how the model works, if you look, the highest score is the choice, all right? So the very highest score that you have here is what many of you – because you didn’t really get a good chance to look at it. Many of you selected. All right? So that’s what they picked. But the next best alternative, that’s what they gave up. So the next best alternative for them probably if we’re looking at our numbers, that’s the one where it was move within the south. So kudos to you who are listening really hard and got move within the south. Denise, let’s go on to that next slide, if you would, please.

Now, all these materials are available in FRASER, and as I mentioned earlier, I know as U.S. history teachers, you have lots of stuff, all right? Here’s why this is worthwhile for you to do, because I did all the work of reading and pulling all the documents and putting them into the perspectives for you, all right? So your students can download the group work for each one, and they have the documents in each area. So they will just have to look at those documents and pull it out. You don’t have to do that. This way, they can read excerpts, things that are useful, things that will be meaningful to them and will speak to them, I hope.

But it won’t be as onerous as having to wade through two books to get there. What are these documents? Well, let’s look on the next page. One of the things I did want to point out is that the Bureau of Labor Statistics actually hired (W.E.B. DuBois for a while and had him write some studies for this. Some of those studies are what I started reading, but he actually wrote those in 1898 through 1901 and that was before it was considered the time of the Great Migration. So those aren’t included in this lesson. But instead, as I was mentioning earlier, the writings of Emmett Scott are.

Now, some you I would assume perhaps have read the book The Warmth of Other Suns. It’s an award winning book written by Isabel Wilkerson and yes, it is about the Great Migration. The reason I mention that book is that she used Emmett Scott’s work as a source in her book. Who was this Emmett Scott? He was the highest ranking African American in President Woodrow Wilson’s administration. He served as special assistant for negro affairs to the secretary of war. He also served as special advisor, very close advisor, to Booker T. Washington while he was at Tuskegee Institute, and Scott was a journalist.

So what he did in compiling this book is he hired three field investigators to go across the country and gather information that he put in his book. This book, incidentally, is published by Oxford University Press. It was published in 1920. It is not part of the BLS studies, even though it was conducted in study format, survey format. Since it was published before 1923, it’s in the public domain, and that’s why the digital librarians working with FRASER were able to digitize it and have it available for you.

If we look at the next slide, here’s an example of an excerpt from Scott’s book that’s included in each group’s folder. What this excerpt does, it provides evidence of the labor shortages in the industrial north, and it sets the stage for an increase in labor demand from another source. So for each of the six groups, they have the same set of materials from Scott’s book. But the material that they have is different. They come from the next publication. Let’s look at the next slide.

It comes from Negro Migration in 1916 to 1917. This was provided by the division of Negro economics. Yes, there was once a division of Negro economics within the U.S. Department of Labor. It was during Woodrow Wilson’s administration, and what they did is they hired college educated African American males to survey African Americans regarding the migration and the likelihood to migrate. The reason they did this is that there were members of Congress that were concerned about this migration. Especially southern members of Congress, they were worried that their labor force was leaving and they wanted to find out what was going on.

Members of Congress in the north were also worried that they had shortages of labor, and so they had people on both areas that were interested in what was going on. I do want to point out that in these surveys, period language is used. Negro is used throughout instead of black or African American, and there are stories from the Chicago Defender, which is a black newspaper in Chicago, obviously, that are printed verbatim. They are in the first set of excerpts from the Scott book. Some of them are fairly graphic. So you need to be aware of that in looking at this information as part of a primary source.

If we look at the next slide, we’ll see an example of an excerpt from RH Leavell report about migration from Mississippi. In this, if you have really good eyesight, you can see at the bottom is chronicling how a young man regularly was sending back – every two months, he was sending $75 to his aging father back in Mississippi. That was speaking volumes to how prosperous people were in the north, that they were able to send back large sums of cash to help their families still living in the south.

As we look at the next slide, I do want to point out that if you need to do some scaffolding because of some different ability levels of students in your classroom, you can do that. The amount of reading does vary within the groups, and just a quick rank order of most reading to the least amount. The excerpts are each put on a separate page. So when you look at the length of pages in a document, it can be a little bit misleading in the sense it will make it seem like it’s longer than it actually is. But as you can see, there are more documents for the southern planters and for the black migrants. And there’s the least number for the agents and for the immigrants.

If you look at the next slide, you’ll see that as in all the lessons that are created by the economic education team here at the St. Louis Fed, they are all aligned to national standards. This lesson is no different. The C3 framework particularly looks at perspectives. The College Board also has the Great Migration included in its AP U.S. History. If we look at the next slide, you’ll see one of the things that I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, and that is the Great Depression. We have the Britannica of resources for the Great Depression.

We have a website for the Great Depression. We have interviews with people who remember life during the Great Depression. We have video presentation clips from David Wheelock, who is the vice president and deputy director of research here at the St. Louis Fed, and all kinds of in depth materials. If you look at the next slide, you’ll see that we have six different units that deal with the Great Depression. They each have activities. They each have PowerPoint decks. They each have whiteboard applications that can be downloaded. So if there’s any part of the Great Depression that you know of anyone that needs a little help, an activity or something, we probably have something here that would definitely take care of that.

Then you have someone who’s new and hasn’t taught it before, this would be a great resource for them to look at just for their own educational purposes. If we look at the next slide, please, we also have Great Depression coursework online if you have someone that would like to do it online. Now if we can go back, on our next slide, we’re going back to FRASER. We’re going to be looking at the statistical atlas of 1870. It is a beautiful document. Not only was this the first census conducted after the Civil War, this document has charts and graphs of data collected from the previous censuses.

Frances A. Walker, he wanted to create a first rate atlas akin to those that were produced in Europe. He also tried to institute more science in the data collection and tabulation, and later he would make revisions in later years of the census. Let’s go to the next slide. Here’s one that we have an activity that you could use with your students if you were interested in looking at church affiliation in 1870. It provides historical inquiry questions for students to evaluate the chart. They can practice using historical inquiry questions and also see what type of church affiliation was in the United States at that time. Incidentally, there were only 37 states at that time. Let’s look at the next slide so they can see a bigger picture.

As you look at this next slide, you’ll see the large rectangle on the left. That demarcates for the entire United States, and then each state is broken down and they’re in alphabetical order. It breaks down what their religious affiliation is for the various states. The gray around the edge, that meant that there was no affiliation reported. So as you can see, you can probably see the third one over is California. California had few people that were reporting any type of religion affiliation.

If you move to the next slide, please. Another activity that features primary sources from the Fed’s online archive of FRASER is maps. What you find here is that the statistical atlas of 1870 goes back and charts the population from 1790 on. If we look at the next slide, you can see two examples of these maps. One of the things that Walker attempted to do with this atlas was to show the progress of the nation. In very small print at the top, he’s got that written. The progress of the nation. If you look and compare the map of 1790 to 1800, you can see the growth of population in just ten years. These are the first two panels. There are two more panels that go just below that. They have 1810 and 1820, and when you look at all four of those, like you can put them up on your smart board so all your students can see. They can just look and visualize and see what this is.

Now, there are historical inquiry questions that they can use with this. If you look at the next slide, you’ll find there’s an additional activity that can be used. This is talking about gainful occupation and school attendance. This one is very small. So I’ll have you look at the next slide so that you can see it a little bit larger. Incidentally, I was humored in looking at this because they started doing the break between attending school and working at age 12. So if you were over age 12, then you were considered to be in the workforce. Well, I think this hour has flown by. So at this time, Jane and I will be happy to take any questions that you might have. Thank you so much for listening.

Denise Davis: All right. Great. So at this time, if you do have any questions, go ahead and just press the ask question button and submit your question at this time. All right. Looks like we do have a question coming in. How does FRASER decide what to digitize?

Jane Davis: That’s a really good question. We have a collection development policy that we adhere to. We primarily focus on things from the banks first. Then we look to see how available it is currently in the world. So if it’s something that you can easily find on Hathi Trust or in your local library, and it’s been digitized a thousand times, we’re not going to focus on it first. We focus on things that are harder to get. Then if it’s the last copy and no one else is going to let us have it, we’re going to go ahead and digitize it as quickly as humanly possible before they change their mind.

Denise Davis: All right. Great. Let’s see what other questions we have coming in. What’s the best way to find things in FRASER about a specific topic?

Jane Davis: I would start with subject headings. If you know what your primary thought is that you’re looking for, you can just go to the subject heading browse and start browsing there and see if anything sounds good. We also have a very good keyword search. So if you for example, want to look up something on tuberculosis. You can type that in and get a number, maybe three or four packets. As usual, with most online search tools, the more unique a term you’re looking for, the better your results are going to be. If you search for something like, oh, say, prices in FRASER, be prepared to wait. There are a lot of things.

Denise Davis: All right. Thank you. Next question, is it possible to do searches for images only in FRASER?

Jane Davis: Sadly, no. We are predominantly text oriented. Everything is a PDF. Everything is OCR. So our focus has been on the content rather than the images of the documents. However, if there is something specific you’re looking for that you are having a hard time finding, please don’t hesitate to use the Ask a Librarian form on FRASER. We’ll go through and we’ll find it for you if we can and send it to you.

Denise Davis: Okay, thank you. Let’s see. The next question, can my students access FRASER documents on their cell phones?

Jane Davis: Not easily. As you all might know, PDFs and small cell phones are not the best friends. But they can do a good bit of searching and then download it for later. They do work out pretty okay on some tablets, depending on the size. But unless they have really, really, really good eyesight. I wouldn’t be tempted.

Denise Davis: Let’s see. Can we suggest ideas for future lessons?

Eva Johnston: Yes. We’d love to have suggestions. That’s how some of the lessons we’ve created, we have in fact done because of books that teachers have mentioned to us, or ideas that teachers say, we don’t have activities for this. We need help on finding materials. So please, if you have suggestions of ideas of some U.S. history topic that you would like to see us work on and do a lesson about, please shoot me an email and I would be happy to respond and if possible, work on creating a lesson.

Denise Davis: All right. Thank you. Let’s see. The next question we have is how frequently is the FRASER education page updated?

Eva Johnston: Oh, that’s a good question. As soon as we have new materials that are available that are history related, we try to get them updated and have that added to the education page. Usually – so it’s going to be not really on a regular basis, per se, but it usually is whenever there is new materials. Everything on that FRASER education button, those are all available on our Econ Lowdown website. If you are a U.S. history person and you want to look really quickly and find direct U.S. history, you can go straight to this education landing page and it takes you there quicker. It’s like a shortcut.

Denise Davis: All right. Thank you. Let’s see. So I don’t see any more questions coming in at this time, but if you do have additional questions, feel free to email Jane or Eva. Their email addresses are provided there for you. If you joined us in the webinar tool, you’ll likely see a survey link pop up on your screen. Please take a moment to complete it so we know how we’re doing. We’ll also be sending the survey out via email. You only need to fill it out once. With that, I will officially bring this session to a close. Thank you so much for joining us today, and we hope you have a great rest of your day.


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Audience:   High School, College, Consumers
Language:   English
Subjects:   Economics, History
Resource Types:   Webinar