Teaching History with The Lost Colony
Grady Klein's The Lost Colony tells the story of an uncharted island off the shore of nineteenth century United States—but the laws and social protocol concerning slavery are a bit more complicated on the island than on the mainland: the majority of the black inhabitants of the Lost Colony are free, while those who are enslaved may be either black, white, or a mix of the two. When American capitalist Edweard Stoop stumbles onto the island and plasters it with slave auction advertisements, the island's inhabitants, especially the free blacks, see their way of life threatened. Klein's graphic novel can serve as an effective, engaging supplement to a unit on slavery in a high school United States History curriculum.
In this lesson, your students will work in groups to predict the ramifications of institutionalized racially based slavery on the story's characters. They will do this by creating first person diary entries for the characters. Then, as a class, your students will determine how institutionalized racially based slavery would affect the Lost Colony community as a whole.
Once your students have completed the reading, assign each student in your class to a group of three or four. Then introduce the following web-based resources on slavery and ask your students to research the economic and sociological effects of slavery. This research should be done in groups. Encourage your students to discuss what they learn with each other.
The Mariner's Museum: Captive Passage
Discover John Locke: Of Slavery
The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slavery in the Americas
When the research is complete, ask each student to choose one of the following characters:
Only one member of each group may choose a particular character. Have students discuss with their groups the ramifications of institutionalized racially based slavery on their characters.
Each student will then write a short, first person diary entry for his/her character. The diary entry should take place two years after racially based slavery has been institutionalized, and should answer the following questions:
Ask students share their diary entries with their group for critique. Then lead a class discussion in which students share portions of their diary entries. How did different students interpret the same character? Ask the class to describe the Lost Colony community as a whole after the institution of racially based slavery.