An Annotated List of Online Sources
Useful in Teaching
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird

List of Topics for Online Sources: History; Trials

Historical Background Material | The Civil War | Jim Crow Laws and Racism | Ku Klux Klan
The Scottsboro Trial and Lynchings | The Great Depression | The Holocaust | Courtroom Language

List of Topics for Online Sources: Study Guides; The Setting

Study Guides for TKAM | Harper Lee | Monroeville and Alabama | Mockingbirds
Photographs | Interviews | Southern Life | The Film

List of Topics for Other Online Sources

Sites Especially for Students | Sites Connected to Allusions in TKAM | Other Sources

Historical Background Material

The 21 collections at this site include recordings, maps, narratives, photographs, and much more documenting life in Southern U.S. A site to be explored!

The Civil War

This site provides a simple, clear timeline of events connected to the Civil War. One of the most valuable links is to a colored map depicting A Nation Divided – the United States of America (the Union), the Confederate States of America, and the Border States
This very thorough site includes a timeline, summaries of the major battles (listed either by date or by state), documents (government, diaries, and letters), and music pertaining to the Civil War. The home page has a simple explanation of the war. The music link contains mainly lyrics, but some songs can be listened to such as "Free at Last."
Brightly illustrated by Keith Rocco's "The Surrender," this site states in fairly simple language what took place at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.

Sign for Segregated Drinking Fountains

Jim Crow Laws and Racism

The home page for this site states, "More than 400 state laws, constitutional amendments, and city ordinances legalizing segregation and discrimination were passed in the United States between 1865 and 1967. These laws governed nearly every aspect of daily life, from education to public transportation, from health care and housing to the use of public facilities." Students can click on Alabama on the U.S. map to get a timeline of Jim Crow laws in the state.
Teachers in Iowa developed a 9-week, 45-minute class period, integrated language arts/social studies unit that seeks to broaden the context of the novel. Student explore the Scottsboro Case in a WebQuest, get an introduction to the Jim Crow System through supplemental readings, and research into actual demographic statistics of Monroeville and Monroe County, Alabama, of the 1930s. Valuable links to historical resources are included.
The virtual site of The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. The actual museum is located on the campus of Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. The virtual museum includes links to such topics as: Who Was Jim Crow?, What Was Jim Crow? [see below], The Mammy Caricature, Picaninny Caricature, The Coon Caricature, The Tom Caricature, The Tragic Mulatto, Nigger And Caricatures, And Racist Cartoons.
This site contains a historical timeline, personal narratives, the efforts to end Jim Crow, interactive maps, and materials for teachers. I use it to have my students find out the laws passed in Alabama in the 1930s.
Under Selected Items for Believe It Or Not is Darkie Toothpaste, which was marketed in Hong Kong until Colgate bought the company in 1985. "However, the Cantonese name - Haak Yahn Nga Gou (Black Man Toothpaste) — remains." A downloadable image of the product is on the site. This information may make students aware of the prevalence of racism in Asia.
Dramatically illustrated, this powerful slide show chronicles the circumstances and events surrounding the early slave trade. It mentions John Newton, the slave ship captain who, "after several voyages, quit the slave trade, became a minister, and wrote the hymn ‘Amazing Grace,’" which would make an excellent background while presenting the site as a slide show.

The Ku Klux Klan

A student presentation for a course at James Madison College Michigan State University entitled Approach to Writing: American Culture in the 1920s, this page gives an explanation of the KKK that is simple enough for ESL/EFL students to understand.

The Scottsboro Trial and Lynchings

The explanation of the Scottsboro case on this site is short and simple enough for ESL/EFL students to understand. The site also lists the parallels between the Scottsboro Trials and Tom Robinson's Trials.
According to the introduction, "No crime in American history–let alone a crime that never occurred–produced as many trials, convictions, reversals, and retrials as did an alleged gang rape of two white girls by nine black teenagers on the Southern Railroad freight run from Chattanooga to Memphis on March 25, 1931." The parallels of this trial with that of Tom Robinson in the novel can be explored. The site includes a chronology, biographies of the main figures, photographs and maps, excerpts of testimony, and many more details about the trial.
Linder has also documented numbers of other trials, from that of Socrates to O.J. Simpson. There are also cases, notes & materials on various Constitutional issues. On the humorous side, those who want to marry a Founding Father (or Mother) can take an online quiz to find a spouse at: Founding Father Quiz A fun but educational way to learn about the Bill of Rights is to play Bill of Rights Golf
This site about the PBS film on the Scottsboro trial includes, in addition to a synopsis of the film, many special features: an online poll about the defense, voices from Scottsboro with many different points of view, the treatment of the women on the witness stand, and lynching in Alabama. The page about lynchings, in particular, which states that "many observers condemned Alabamans for the ‘legal lynchings’ of the Scottsboro defendants," may help students understand why Tom Robinson had no hope. A teacher's guide provides suggestions for active learning, including a number of links pertaining to History, Economics, Geography, and Civics.
At this site, students can see, but need some help in understanding, a personal letter by Eleanor Roosevelt to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which was pushing for a federal anti-lynching law on lynchings in the 1930s. The site includes the important question, "What reasons did the President give for not supporting the law?"
The letter can also be viewed at the American Memory site.

The Great Depression

The explanation of The Great Depression at this site, while full of statistics, is brief enough that intermediate ESL/EFL students can understand it. It is followed by an explanation of Breadlines. Both pages have photographs that can be enlarged with a click.
In a clear format by date, the site gives short synopses of the events leading up to and the effects of The Great Depression.
Three pages, each with a photograph, give statistics on the Great Depression and how it affected children. Thousands of young people wrote to Mrs. Roosevelt with requests for clothes, money, bicycles, and luxuries. The poignant content of their letters and her reply can be found by scrolling through this site.
This WebQuest was made for an American 5th Grade Social Studies class. Students divide into groups of six members each. Three members (a man, woman, and child) explore living in an urban area and three (a man, woman, and child) a rural area. It includes simple language and excellent photographs. The project leads to other excellent websites such as one on The Great Depression and the New Deal &l
The 33 original documents on this page are handwritten anecdotes by people living in Alabama. Both the originals and the transcribed versions are a bit difficult for students to read, but provide a source of "realia." Particularly recommended by the accompanying Lesson Plan are "Amy Chapman's Funeral," "Looking Around With a Hay Farmer," "Sallie Smith," "The Story of Katy Brumby," and "Terrapin Dogs."
Available in printer friendly or text only versions as well as in PDF format, this site compares prices from the 1930s to those of today. The grid format on the site could be used for a class.

The Holocaust

  • Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. (1997). Nuremberg Laws [February 28, 2005]
Students can read a simple explanation of the two Nuremberg Laws passed in September, 1935. In chart form is a list of definitions, including Aryan, eugenics, Mischlinge, Reich, and Slavs. Another authentic chart in German, rather unclear, depicts how a Jew is defined, which could be compared with how a Negro is defined, according to Jem. The site explores race, laws, and eugenics in Canada, mentioning the laws that disenfranchised Japanese Canadians during World War II.
"Instructional charts such as the one [on this site] were issued by the Nazis to help bureaucrats and administrators distinguish Jews from Mischlinge (Germans of mixed race) and Aryans. The white figures represent Aryans; the black figures represent Jews; and the shaded figures represent Mischlinge." Students can compare the definition of a Jew with that of a Negro as mentioned in the novel

Courtroom Language

In alphabetical order and cross-referenced, this glossary includes legal terms that students may come across in their reading of To Kill a Mockingbird There are links to recent famous trials and to verdicts, some of which can be listened to with RealPlayer.


Compiled by CA Edington, Sapporo, Japan, Spring, 2005.