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Webquest: To Kill a Mockingbird (handout) - Weed-Wolnick

The purpose of this activity is for you to use the Internet to find and review the historical backdrop of To Kill A Mockingbird. The historical context will provide you with a deeper understanding of the significance of the novel, which will help you to infer meaning as you closely read the text. 

Webquest: To Kill a Mockingbird Part I: The Great Depression & 1930s America

1. Go to the website:

Explore the pictures taken from the 1930s Depression Era. In a paragraph, describe what you see in these pictures.

This site is about the Great Depression that impacted the global community.

This site is about the Depression in the United States during the 1930s.

This site is about Black Tuesday; the day the stock market crashed in1929.

This site discusses the dust bowl of the Great Plains during the Great Depression.


Webquest: To Kill a Mockingbird Part II: Jim Crow Laws

1. Go to:
a. Read the information on this page and write a brief summary (3-5 sentences) of what you learned. 
b. Explore three of the numbered stories found on this website. Record the names of the links (i.e. James Peck), and for each link, write two or three sentences to summarize what you learned.
2. Take a look at the links listed below and pursue one that most interests you.
Take notes on the important aspects of your article.
From the 1880s until the 1960s, a majority of American states enforced segregation through "Jim Crow" laws (named after a black character in minstrel shows).
This site provides examples of Jim Crow laws (scroll down to see them!)
This site promotes the Jim Crow Museum from Ferris State University in Michigan.


Webquest: To Kill a Mockingbird Part III: The Scottsboro Incident and the Murder of Emmett Till

Explore the links below, taking notes on the pages to identify the source of your notes.

1. One of Harper Lee’s inspirations for her novel was a case known as the “Scottsboro Incident” that she had heard about when growing up. The setting for the Scottsboro case was the rural American South in the 1930s, when whites feared racial fraternization as much as blacks feared the mobs that enforced segregation. The defendants in the case were known as the “Scottsboro Boys”—a label that reflected their youth, but even more, in that place and at that time, an epithet used to imply racial inferiority. Click on the following links, read about the trial, and summarize what you learned from each link.

This site provides a brief synopsis of the Scottsboro incident.

This site focuses on the women in the Scottsboro Trial.


2. Additional inspiration for Lee’s novel came from another real case a few years prior to writing her book. It was the murder of a young black boy your age named Emmett Till.

This page has links dedicated to Emmett Till's murder.


These links take you to YouTube videos with interviews from some friends and relatives of Emmett Till and other civil rights leaders. 

Webquest: To Kill a Mockingbird Part IV: Reflective Writing

Type a one-page reflection regarding what you have learned about 1930s America, Jim Crow Laws, the Scottsboro Trial, and the murder of Emmett Till.

  • What surprised you?
  • What made you angry?
  • What do you think life would have been like for a small town, teenage, Caucasian girl or boy during this period? Would they have been aware of the political and socio-economic issues of the day?
  • How would life have been different for a teenage, African American girl or boy during this period? What concerns would they have had?
  • This is NOT A SUMMARY. This is an opportunity for you to articulate your own response to the materials presented. DO NOT SUMARIZE AND DO NOT SIMPLY ANSWER THE QUESTIONS ABOVE!!! Papers that do so will be returned to be rewritten.

This reflection should be typed in New Times Roman, 12-point font, double spaced with 1-inch margins all the way around. You should head your paper (and the heading needs to be typed!!!): 1 page.