Exploring FSA Photography & Photojournalism: Gee's Bend, Alabama
In this lesson, students will look at a series of photographs taken of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Students will write a series of newspaper articles based on the images and the evolution of change at Gee’s Bend caused by Resettlement Administration involvement in the community.
The learner will:
- View a series of photographs of Gee’s Bend before Resettlement Administration involvement and write a newspaper article about the community
- View a series of photographs of Gee’s Bend after Resettlement Administration involvement and write a newspaper article depicting progress in the community
How do photographs aid in getting public support for government programs?
Gee’s Bend is an interesting example of the transition from slavery to sharecropping after the Civil War. The chapter, Tenant Farmers (click on the link for page 146) discusses the history of the Pettway Plantation briefly. Print out copies of the interview transcriptions of Isom Moseley and Alice Gaston (These interviews are part of the Library of Congress collection, Voices from the Days of Slavery.) Allow the students to listen to the interviews of Isom Moseley and Alice Gaston and read along using the transcripts, or have students simply read the transcripts. Also, point out that Isom Moseley is the subject of one of the photographs used in the lesson plan. Have a class discussion on the content of the interviews. What was life like as a slave for Mosely and Gatson? How did the Civil War impact the plantation? Notice, that both Mosely and Gatson were asked, “What’s the government been doing for you?” Speculate why both were asked this question, and discuss their responses to it. For homework, have students write an essay from Mosely’s or Gatson’s point of view about life before and after R.A. involvement. Students should incorporate information from the chapter, Tenant Farmers, the photographs, and from class discussions into their essays. Students should also include the pros and cons of R.A. involvement in the community.
- Primary Source Analysis Tool
- Teacher's Guide, Analyzing Photographs & Prints
- Worksheet 1
- Discussion Questions
- Gee’s Bend, Alabama: A Look into the Community before Resettlement Administration Involvement PowerPoint (optional)
- Gee’s Bend, Alabama: A Comparison of the Community Before and After Resettlement Administration Involvement (optional)
- What can companion images tell us?