The Quarters

The Quarters

The slave quarters on a plantation were not only a symbol of slavery, but also illustrated the dynamics of power in the American South.


9 - 12


U.S. History, Social Studies

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Idea for Use in the Classroom

Before introducing the infographic, prompt students to share their knowledge and perceptions of the plantation system in general. Then encourage students to comment on the physical characteristics of plantations, especially housing. Have students predict how housing likely differed between enslavers and the enslaved.

Introduce the infographic and focus on the planation layout in the top right corner to identify differences between the size and surroundings of the slave quarters and main house. Building upon these general differences, direct students to the bottom right of the infographic and ask: What did the interior spaces of the quarters imply about the status of people who were enslaved? How were these spaces likely different from the interior of the main house? Next, have students read about and study the four examples of slave quarters on the left to identify additional differences. Student may note differences in the quality or type of building material, or the actual architecture of the buildings. Once students have read through and studied the entire infographic, challenge them to use evidence from the infographic to explain how slave quarters reflected the institution of slavery.

As an extension, direct students to the The Cultural Landscape of the Plantation photo exhibit. Have students read the “Introduction,” “The Plantation Landscape,” or “The Quarters” section and look closely at the styles and materials of the housing in the photographs. Have students identify details in the photographs and descriptions that support information on the infographic. Conclude by having students use evidence from the infographic and exhibit to discuss the dynamics of power in the Plantation South.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
Production Managers
Gina Borgia, National Geographic Society
Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society
Program Specialists
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Margot Willis, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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