Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2016

Degree Type

Creative Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

History

First Advisor

Lawrence Culver

Second Advisor

Kyle Bulthuis

Third Advisor

Shane Graham

Abstract

Historical Background:

Beginning in 1869, the newly built Union Station in Ogden Utah became a major terminal for the transcontinental railroad. Around that same time George Pullman began recruiting emancipated slaves as employees on his luxury railroad cars. As a result a sizeable number of African Americans began working on the railroad. Many African Americans found residence in Ogden since it was a major railroad hub. As a result a small African American neighborhood that was six blocks long and two blocks wide formed in the city.[1] Businesses and organizations formed to support the emerging African American community within Ogden.

It has been noted that although they were paid less than their white counterparts, the railroad workers earned relatively high wages within black communities. Many businesses formed around the railroad junction. Clubs, restaurants and barber shops that catered to the black community opened near the railroad hub. One club in particular that is examined in the unit of lessons is the Porters and Waiters Club that opened on the city’s notorious twenty-fifth street. Initially the club only served African Americans, but it was desegregated after World War Two. Since the club opened with black railroad employees in mind, the Porters and Waiters Club is used to provide insight on the development of the railroad’s connection to the larger African American community in Ogden. Often railroad workers earned higher wages and had greater job stability than other occupations readily available to the African American community. Due to unfair housing practices many middle class African Americans lived within the same neighborhoods as their lower paid contemporaries. Some of the oral histories students will read discuss racial segregation in residential neighborhoods.

Ogden’s black community was so energetic that it once was a destination for famous Jazz musicians. After performances in Salt Lake, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Fats Domino would “catch the train to Ogden to visit the Porters and Waiters Club.”[2] Two lesson plans place Ogden within the context of the Harlem Renaissance and the Great Migration, allowing students to realize the importance of African American art and literature within a local framework. This aligns with Utah Core, Standard 5 Objective 2A: “Examine the experiences of black Americans and women in the early 20th century, account for the sudden growth of black consciousness”[3]

Lesson plans also examine Ogden’s African American community during the mid-twentieth-century. An article found in the Standard Examiner cites the owner of the Porters and Waiters Club, Annabelle Weakley, as one of Utah’s civil rights leaders. The president of Ogden’s chapter of the NAACP stated that Weakley’s club “became a safe place for people in the black community to come and relax."[4] The article continues on to state, “To this day, African-Americans thank Annabelle Weakley-Mattson, the "Queen of 25th Street," who welcomed black railroad workers, airmen and jazz greats alike to her colorblind club in the crossroads of the West.”[5] Annabelle Weakley was closely connected to railroad employees and had an impact on shaping the African American business community in Ogden. Articles students will read from the Standard Examiner suggest that as the Civil Rights movement was gaining momentum nationwide, local authorities increased pressure on African American businesses to leave Twenty-Fifth Street. In fact, after the club desegregated police scrutiny appears to escalate. In 1960, The Porter’s and Waiters Club began seeing an increased presence of local authorities. By the end of 1961, the club closed its doors. A dissertation on the African American community in Ogden suggests that “Most Utah Whites appeared content to simply ignore the African Americans in their communities.”[6] However, many of the oral histories students will examine suggest otherwise. This unit contains lessons organized around the existing oral history interviews and use the interviews to shed light on what was happening in black communities throughout the nation. This material aligns with Utah Core Curriculum for Social Studies Standard 3 Objective 1A, Standard 9, Objective 1A and 1C, which states “The students will understand the emergence and development of the human rights and culture in the modern era.”

Introduction of Lesson Plans:

Before the turn of the twentieth century, education reformer Mary Sheldon Barnes argued that local history offered students “a close and intimate connection with the great whole of history.”[7] With that in mind, I created a unit of lesson plans based on the African American community in Ogden. The lessons cover a date range between 1869 with the completion of the transcontinental railroad, and conclude during the second half of the twentieth century. The lessons begin with the arrival of African Americans working for the railroad, and finish with the examination of oral histories completed by Weber State University in 2013. Lessons are designed in segments so teachers can use part or the entire lesson based on classroom needs. A combination of primary and secondary material is provided in the source materials.

The lessons are designed to give a local perspective to broader national movements occurring in the United States during the period of time being studied in class. These lessons are not meant to replace curriculum on broader national movements and events, instead they are designed to demonstrate how national trends impacted our local community. Currently the majority of lessons regarding African Americans are taught on a national level independent from what was happening locally. I believe that this gives the students the impression that segregation and racism was a Southern problem and that it didn’t occur in Utah. Ogden will provide a case study of race in a western city that offers a different, but equally important narrative of race relations in the 20th century. This unit of lessons will not replace lessons broad national trends and movements, they will be used to supplement the existing curriculum. This unit can be used as a thread of lessons plans to incorporate throughout the year as concepts such as westward migration, urbanization, race, and African American history are taught. The lessons are designed so that teachers can pick and choose which lessons fit best within their own classrooms.

I argue that this project is relevant for several reasons. First, Ogden developed as a fairly diverse community by Utah standards, and that trend has only increased. Allowing students to examine race on a local level, may help them to recognize trends that continue, such as self-segregation, ambivalence, or outright discrimination. Second, I think it is important for students to realize that Ogden did reflect national trends regarding race and that putting the concept into a national context may result in a more meaningful learning outcome. From my experience teaching, students only consider pioneers and the driving of the “golden spike” to have any relevant meaning to local history. Third, bringing concepts to a local level will make the learning experience more meaningful on a personal level. As educators Maurice Moffat and Stephen Rich “History has happened where we are. Local history is that part of it which we feel belongs to our own lives, because it has directly affected what we do, where we go, and how we act.”[8]

In addition to fitting with the Utah Core Curriculum Standards for United States History II, the lessons also follow the Writing Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies. Lessons are not meant to replace lecture or traditional teaching methods. Instead, they are meant to provide materials that allow students to practice literacy skills by using primary and secondary documents. This unit of lessons is designed to supplement lectures that focus on the national narrative with literacy and skill based lessons with a local emphasis. Guided reading, discussion, and note taking strategies are included in the “optional resources” file. Lessons are designed so teachers can adjust their own preferences for note taking and annotations to the assigned reading materials such as Cornell notes, metacognitive markers, closed reading strategies, etc. The lessons are designed with scaffolded instruction, guided questions are provided through out the unit. In order to align with Ogden School District’s focus on increasing rigor, Depth of Knowledge (DOK) indicators are included with every activity. A DOK chart can be found in the optional materials file. As the year progresses and skill levels increase the readings become more advanced. Students will analyze more complex secondary readings and finish the unit with a final paper.

[1] Eric Stene, “The African American Community of Ogden, Utah: 1910 – 1950” (Master’s thesis, Utah State University, 1994) 59.

[2] Carli Jennings, “Jazz from the Station: 25th Street, Desegregation, and all that Jazz,” The Ogden Source 01, no. 1 (October 2015): 24-25. The

[3] See Utah State Office of Education “core standards” for United States History II http://www.uen.org/core/core.do?courseNum=6250

[4] Ogden Standard Examiner. News Brief. July 28, 1961, 11.

[5] Jensen, Derek P. "Utahans Pave Way for Civil Rights, See Long Road Ahead." Salt Lake Tribune 19 Jan. 2009: n. page. Print.

[6] Stene, “The African American Community of Ogden, Utah: 1910 – 1950,” 68.

[7] Quoted by Robert E. Keohane, “Historical Method and Primary Sources,” in Thursfield, ed., The Study of Teaching American History (National Council for the Social Studies, Seventh Yearbook, Washington, 1946), 332-33.

[8] Maurice P. Moffatt, and Stephen G. Rich. "The Place of Local History in Modern Education." In The Journal of Educational Sociology 26, no. 2 (1952): 79-88.

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