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Harriet Tubman was 13 when she refused to help an overseer capture an enslaved man in a general store. The overseer was so furious that he threw a metal weight that hit her in the head and fractured her skull. Harriet would endure seizures and severe headaches all her life as a result. This module describes the physical and spiritual impact on Harriet Tubman's life and her resiliency after the injury. Students will analyze primary source documents and images from the Library of Congress, and consider discussion prompts for more dialogue and deeper reflection.

Essential Question:

How does Tubman resist oppression and find opportunities when faced with extreme hardships and adversity?

Thinking Questions:

  • How did the encounter in the store with the freedom seeker and the overseer change Harriet Tubman physically and spiritually?
  • How did Harriet Tubman’s visions influence her way of thinking?
  • How did the opportunity to hire herself out create new opportunities for Harriet Tubman?
  • Why were encounters with watermen key to Harriet Tubman’s success on the Underground Railroad?

Examine the manuscript, History of Dorchester County, Maryland.

  • What do you notice about this manuscript?
  • Why do you think the author wrote this manuscript?
  • What do you think the author wanted to accomplish by writing this document?
  • What can you learn about Dorchester County, Maryland from examining the manuscript?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this manuscript?

Analyze the map, Dorchester County, Maryland.

  • Describe what you see on this map. What do you notice first?
  • What place or place does the map show?
  • Can you locate Bucktown, Maryland on the map?
  • What information do you learn about the natural environment where Harriet Tubman lived?
  • How would a map legend give you more information?

Examine the photograph, Dorchester County, Maryland. Home of an "Eastern shore" waterman.

  • What details do you notice in this photograph? What people or objects are shown?
  • What can you learn from examining this image?
  • Who do you think was the audience for this photograph?
  • Why do you think this photograph was taken?
  • Consider how Harriet Tubman utilized local resources to empower herself despite her enslavement.