Author: Ben Feld
Grade Level: 8
Length of lesson:
1 class period and/or homework assignment
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Historical Context:

  • Theme: Change and continuity in American democracy: ideas, institutions, events, key figures, and controversies
  • Era: The development of modern America (1865 to 1920)

Essential Question

What was “The Creed of the Klanswomen”? How does a close reading of this document contrast with the Bill of Rights?


The original purpose of the Ku Klux Klan was to intimidate freed slaves and restore white supremacy in the post-Civil War South. In 1915, inspired by the film Birth of a Nation, a second Klan movement began in Georgia and spread West and North, targeting not only Blacks but other groups, including Irish Catholics and Jews. In the 1920s, Ku Klux Klan membership rose to an estimated five million people. In this primary source activity, students will closely read “The Creed of the Clanswomen” and think about it in relation to the Bill of Rights and their own ideals.


Activity Plan:

  • Distribute copies of the two documents above, or have students link to them online.
  • Have students respond to the questions/prompts on the worksheet.

Alternatively, students can work in small groups to answer some or all of the questions, or students can answer some of the questions during class, and complete the remaining questions as homework.


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