Mercy Street


Engage with important themes from the Civil War era with content from the new PBS drama Mercy Street, along with our webseries Time Capsule from the producers of PBS Digital Studios's The Good Stuff.

Time Capsule introduces Civil War-era issues with consequences for some of the most pressing debates of today—such as women's roles in wartime, government surveillance, and the meaning of the Confederate flag. Combining these videos with clips from Mercy Street, as well as discussion questions, activity suggestions, and primary source materials, provides an opportunity for a more comprehensive understanding of some of the most important themes in 19th century history, such as technological change, shifting women's roles, and debates about slavery and racism.

Mercy Street: Season 1 aired on PBS for six weeks beginning on January 17, 2016. Mercy Street: Season 2 also aired on PBS for six weeks, beginning on January 22, 2017.

For even more resources to help you teach Civil War history visit our new collection bringing together videos, primary sources and activities from some of PBS' most well-known producers, Teaching the Civil War.

  • Mercy Street | African American Experience: Slavery’s Impact on the Family

    In this video from Mercy Street, learn about the African American experience during the Civil War through the eyes of Belinda Gibson. Students learn of Belinda’s life-long love, her dreams of having a family, explore reasons she kept this a secret from the Green family, and watch her character evolve as she gains more autonomy from the Green household.

    Support materials are available below, including discussion questions, teaching tips, and a handout. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Mercy Street | A Letter Home, A Virtual Reality Film

    "A Letter Home" is a virtual reality video that takes place in the Mansion House Hospital, the main setting of Mercy Street. Students will watch the video, answer discussion questions, and complete a short activity. Click to learn how to use virtual reality and 360° videos.

    Support materials are available below, including discussion questions, teaching tips, and a handout. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Mercy Street | The African American Freedmen Perspective during the Civil War

    Using video from Mercy Street and a primary source document from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, students will examine the ways in which African Americans asserted their rights and fought for freedom during the Civil War.

    Support materials are available, including discussion questions, teaching tips and a handout. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Mercy Street | Women on the Battlefield

    Learn about the women who fought in the Civil War in this media gallery from Mercy Street. Utilizing video, informational texts and primary sources, students analyze the role women played in the war, the hardships they faced, and their motivation to fight.

    Support materials are available, including discussion questions, teaching tips and a handout. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Mercy Street | North vs. South

    Using video from Mercy Street and a primary source document from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, students examine and assess arguments for combat made by the North and the South during the Civil War.

    Support materials are available, including discussion questions, teaching tips and handouts to help students evaluate the arguments made in the video. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Mercy Street | Civil War Disease: Typhoid

    Examining video from Mercy Street, interpreting informational texts, utilizing compare and contrast strategies, and analyzing primary source documents, students learn about deadly diseases like Typhoid that plagued Civil War soldiers, doctors, nurses, and formerly enslaved people. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Mercy Street | African American "Contraband" Experience During the Civil War

    Examine what life was like for newly freed people in the South, known as "contraband," during the Civil War in this media gallery from Mercy Street. Using video, primary source documents, informational texts and archival music, students gain a deeper understanding of the challenging road to freedom for African Americans in the United States. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Civil War Disease and Wound Infection

    Before war in the twentieth century, disease was the number one killer of combatants. However, recent studies show the number of deaths from disease was close to 750,000. Crowded conditions, poor hygiene, absence of sanitary disposal of garbage and human waste, inadequate diets, and no specific disease treatments was a formula for disaster.

    Infection was the curse of the wounded soldier. No matter how slight a wound, once the skin was broken the chances were good that a deadly bacterial infestation would lead to drastic therapies, multiple operations, amputations and frequently death. Hospitals were filled with patients slowly healing over months and then a secondary infection would take hold. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Slavery and the Civil War

    For many, the Civil War was about only one issue: slavery. For others, it was about preserving the Union. The decision to free enslaved people would come slowly and from many sides. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Civil War Nursing

    Women played a significant role in the Civil War. They served in a variety of capacities, as trained professional nurses giving direct medical care, as hospital administrators or as attendants offering comfort. Although the exact number is not known, between 5,000 and 10,000 women offered their services. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Civil War Armies

    Established state militias were the first to answer Lincoln’s call. New volunteer regiments were formed locally by town notables who often became colonels and other officers of these regiments. The only way to identify a regiment on the battlefield was by its unique flag. The job of carrying the flag was critical and when the flag-bearer went down another proudly picked up the banner. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • African Americans in the Civil War

    African Americans were active participants in the Civil War. Many contributed to the war effort raising funds, supplying goods and providing labor. Freemen went to conquered confederate territories to work in hospitals, set up businesses and assist contrabands. Frederick Douglass and other activists led abolitionist movements influencing Congress and President Lincoln. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Fighting for Freedom and Equality - The Abolitionist Movement and Black Lives Matter | The Good Stuff: Time Capsule and Mercy Street

    This activity utilizes primary source documents, video from The Good Stuff: Time Capsule and the PBS series Mercy Street to examine the Black Lives Matter Movement and the racial conflicts of today and trace their roots to the Abolitionist Movement of the nineteenth century. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • How the US Government Became So Big | The Good Stuff Time Capsule

    Explore the many ways the Federal Government expanded during the Civil War using video from Time Capsule and Mercy Street. Utilizing video, discussion questions and teaching tips, students focus specifically on how the national government interacted with citizens in the antebellum period, while the war was raging and during Reconstruction.

    Engage with The Good Stuff community and subscribe to see new videos on The Good Stuff's YouTube page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • The Abolitionist Movement | The Good Stuff: Time Capsule

    In this video from Time Capsule, learn about the Black Lives Matter Movement and the racial conflicts of today and trace their roots to the Abolitionist Movement of the nineteenth century.

    Engage with The Good Stuff community and subscribe to see new videos on The Good Stuff's YouTube page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • The Civil War and Women's Role in Society | Mercy Street and The Good Stuff: Time Capsule

    In this activity, utilizing video from the PBS series Mercy Street, The Good Stuff: Time Capsule, and primary source documents, students will uncover information about the struggle for women’s equality in the years leading up to the Civil War, during the war and in its aftermath. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • The Lasting Impact of Women in the Civil War | The Good Stuff: Time Capsule

    This video from The Good Stuff: Time Capsule examines 19th century women’s struggles, as citizens, nurses, soldiers, and activists, to have an identity outside the domestic sphere and achieve equality.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Civil War Medical Technology | Mercy Street and The Good Stuff: Time Capsule

    Examine how the horrors of the Civil War battlefield forced medicine in America to evolve from a crude practice to a profession grounded in science, in these videos from Mercy Street and The Good Stuff: Time Capsule. Utilizing video and discussion questions, students learn about how medical innovations like the triage system, limb amputations, and general hospitals saved thousands of lives, changed Americans’ expectations regarding healthcare and laid the groundwork for later scientific discoveries of the 19th century. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • The Birth of Modern Medical Care in America | The Good Stuff: Time Capsule

    Examine how the horrors of the Civil War battlefield forced medicine in America to evolve from a crude practice to a profession grounded in science, in this video from The Good Stuff: Time Capsule. Using video and discussion questions, students learn about how medical innovations like the triage system, limb amputations, and general hospitals saved thousands of lives and changed Americans’ expectations regarding healthcare after the war.

    Engage with The Good Stuff community and subscribe to see new videos on The Good Stuff's YouTube page.

    Grades: 7-12
  • Government Surveillance | Mercy Street and The Good Stuff: Time Capsule

    Using video from Mercy Street and The Good Stuff: Time Capsule students learn about government surveillance techniques used today that have their roots in the Civil War era. They will also uncover information about real spies like Frank Stringfellow, who is featured in Mercy Street. Utilizing video, discussion questions, teaching tips, and activities, students examine specific spying strategies used by the North and South, and analyze the rationale for the US government to be spying on its own citizens. For more resources from Mercy Street, check out the collection page.

    Grades: 7-12

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