Skip to content


Become an NEH Scholar and Join us on The Quest for Freedom

How to teach the history of race, specifically the experiences of African Americans from the abolition of slavery through 1954, is a challenge for many K-12 educators, as approaches are being increasingly politicized. Any consideration of this history must take into account the vast differences in power relations between the African Americans and the White community, with the latter maintaining disproportionate political and economic power during the period between the end of the Civil War and the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision. Many of the landmarks chosen for this workshop will underscore this inequality, especially the Jones Family Tenant Farm that is preserved at Tall Timbers as well as housing accorded to workers at Pebble Hill. As in many communities, segregation resulted in the emergence of two distinct shopping districts in the late Nineteenth Century in Thomasville, through a walking tour we will explore both locations.

Segregation continued into death as Thomasville established separate cemeteries for African American and White residents. In touring the historic Thomas County Courthouse, we will consider how the legacy of discrimination is reflected in this landmark and the Confederate monument within its boundary. Denied the right to serve on juries after Reconstruction through the 1960s, African Americans received harsh justice. One study shows that Thomas County African Americans were more likely to be convicted of crimes between 1865 and 1885, received longer sentences and the death penalty, or were sent to work on a chain gang more frequently than their fellow white citizens making justice not only harsh but non-existent.

As part of this workshop, attendees will read several scholarly articles and monographs focusing on the key workshop themes. We are in the process of adding to this website a range of digitized primary sources drawn from the holdings of several institutions in Thomasville and Southwest Georgia. The Thomasville History Center will continue to maintain this material online for at least five years so that attendees can refer back to these resources for their curriculum and classroom activities. In addition to visiting scholars, we have asked representatives from several landmarks we are visiting to speak to participants. We are particularly excited for the attendees to meet Mr. Jack Hadley who grew up on Pebble Hill and after a career in the U.S. Air Force founded the Jack Hadley Black History Museum in his hometown.

Each week-long seminar will also include one public lecture that will be followed by a reception. We include these events so that attendees can have as many opportunities as possible during the workshop week to interact personally with the community during the week. Every community has a distinctive history and one of the goals of this workshop is to not only offer insights into the history of Thomasville, but also provide the methodological tools which attendees can use to research their own community’s history related to the key themes of history, commemoration, and memory. We will also explore how the African American community managed to survive, and even make gains in their quest for greater freedom and autonomy. All participants will be encouraged to read, in advance, the classic guide investigating community history, Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You (4th Edition) by David E. Kyvig, Myron Marty, and Larry Cebula.

In each day’s session, we will highlight the full range of documents available about Thomasville, but will also suggest how you can explore the history of your own communities. We will encourage all attendees to post the lesson plans that they develop from the workshop on the website so that their work can have a broader reach than just their fellow workshop attendees. To facilitate discussion, participants will be asked to read assigned primary and secondary texts in advance. Except for Sunday, each day of the workshop will focus on an overall question (s) and how to use the readings and landmarks visited to address those questions. While we will organize formal tours of every site we visit, we will allow time for self-exploration, especially at Pebble Hill, Thomasville History Center, and the Jack Hadley Black History Museum. In our workshop, we will convey how much remains to be learned about the African American struggle for freedom in both Thomasville and nationally.

A Final Word

If you think one of your colleagues may be interested in joining this program, or if you would like to join us yourself, feel free to contact me with questions; I can be reached by email ( or by telephone (850-329-7137). I look forward to hearing from you!

G. Kurt Piehler, PhD Project Director

For more information about the Landmarks of American History and Culture Program sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, visit NEH on the web at

Important Dates

Application Deadline: March 3, 2023

Acceptance/Regrets: April 3, 2023
Accept/Decline Offer: April 14, 2023
Waitlist Accept/Regrets: April 15, 2023

Session I: July 9-14, 2023
Session II: July 23- July 28, 2023


Thomasville History Center
725 N Dawson St,
Thomasville, GA 31792