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Harlem Renaissance WebQuest

Designed by Kit Aro


Harlem isn’t drawing the crowds of tourists it used to, but during the Jazz Age, Harlem was the center of African American cultural identity. Its art, literature, and music expressed the rebirth of the African American spirit; the "New Negro" was born in the minds of its poets and in the hearts of its common people and was expressed in songs, essays, artwork and dance. The city streets drew whites with a new sound--jazz--and blacks with the promise of a new pride and a new hope for a better place in American society.

Now, a group of Harlem residents are tired of their borough’s bad reputation and economic decline. They have decided to bring Harlem’s rich cultural history back to life—if Harlem once drew the wealthy to sway to its jazz, shimmy with its dancers, drink in its poetry and absorb its unique art, then it can do so again. The group of residents has formed a corporation and received financial backing to turn a blocked-off section of Lenox Ave. into a row of speakeasies, restaurants, coffee houses, art galleries, dance schools and stores, all replicating Harlem during the Roaring Twenties. They are modeling their vision after successful historical recreations such as Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Greenfield Village. Visitors will step back in time to visit the Cotton Club, experience poetry readings, learn the Charleston, and hear upcoming jazz musicians playing for dimes on street corners.

Your creative team of advertisement artists has been hired to design a brochure highlighting the attractions of the "New Harlem Renaissance." Your employers wants this brochure to look like it is from the 1920s, so write it and design it as though it were produced between 1920 and 1929. You can include information from the readings we’ve done, and feel free to find additional sites; just copy the page used and give it to me.



Designate team roles: You must include the starred* items/roles. Credit each group member with his/her role on the last page of your brochure. See "Grading" below for more specifics on content and requirements.

Brochure designer: Your job is to immediately begin working on the layout on the computer/paper, sectioning off areas for the articles and artwork, choosing appropriate fonts and creating a small map of the "New Harlem Renaissance" block(s).

*Jazz Expert: You need to write a brief article on the Jazz scene, titling one or two clubs and listing the best Jazz players of the time (1920-29) who play there. Tell about the mood of club and describe the sights and sounds visitors will experience. Find a good quote on Jazz or the scene and a visual image.

*Poetry Expert: You must write about the poetry of the period, naming one or two poetry reading locations (a coffee house or restaurant?) and listing some of the prominent poets of the time (1920-29). Include significant quotes to give a feeling for the era and describe how visitors can experience the poetry scene of Harlem. Include at least one visual image.

*Art Expert: You are responsible for finding examples of the artwork of the Harlem Renaissance period to decorate the brochure. You must also name a gallery and tell whose works will be featured, describing the uniqueness of this new style of art. Include a significant quote on the art of the Harlem Renaissance.

Dance Expert: You need to title a dance studio and list the dances that are taught there to willing visitors. Describe one or more of the most popular dances and tell how it was invented if possible. Include an appropriate photo or image and a quote about the dances (or from a dance song).

Other possible experts: Consider adding a clothing store and describing the styles of the time. Or, include a bookstore with information on the magazines of the Harlem Renaissance and the prominent authors, describing their novels or other works.


Research your topic: Once you have your team roles assigned, break up to begin your individual part in the process. Read your responsibilities carefully and begin finding the necessary information to create your article. Remember to also find and save any images, quotes, etc. You will need to include who said the quote and the source of borrowed images. Also, please consider your Brochure Designer’s need to have images and quotes ASAP, even before you submit your text.

Here are some Web sites to visit. Also, do your own specific search for your topic!

Harlem: Mecca of the New Negro: an original magazine of the time, including art work, poetry and articles.

Harlem 1900-1940. This helpful site is from the Schomburg Center on Black Culture

I’ll Make Me a World: A Century of African American Art. (Search for Harlem Renaissance at this PBS site)

The Mississippi River of Song from PBS

Jass, Jasz . . . Jazz from PBS

Yale curriculum units. Look for "The Blues Impulse"

Poets and painters and links from Kentucky U. student Diesman

This hard to cite site on the 1920s includes a variety of information and links

ThinkQuest's HR links

HR information and links

Rhapsodies in Black including HR Art

Learning Adventures for kids from PBS

Poetry and Prose

Jazz Roots

Student's Jazz page

University Students' Jazz page with links

Student page with links



Write your article: Reread your responsibilities, then carefully organize your findings to create a catchy article. Remember, this is a brochure to entice tourists to come to Harlem in order to relive the Roaring Twenties and the Harlem Renaissance! Use descriptive language and be creative while maintaining accuracy regarding the time, place, people and events. Also, correctly cite any images and quotes you borrow from other web sites (see rubric below). You should have approximately 5-10 sentences.


Edit your article: When your written text is complete, spell check, self-edit and peer- edit your article. Perfect text is very important for publication and essential to earn a good salary (grade). You will be graded down for any text that is not flawlessly written and edited.


Submit to BD: Submit your article to your Brochure Designer once it is clear, fluid, convincing, lively, and error-free. The Brochure Designer would probably appreciate emailed submissions to avoid retyping (and to easily cut and paste). You should have already provided him/her with supporting photos, artwork, clip art and key quotes that are cited. If you have not done this, do it now.


Use teamwork: All members are responsible for the end product and need to participate in the final production. Once a rough draft is printable, all members should review it and discuss improvements to text, font, images, layout, maps, etc. The Brochure Designer can assign members to do additional tasks at this point, such as revising text, finding additional images, searching for proper information for citations of image or quote sources, etc.



Print the final copy of the brochure for publication: Print one copy for each team member. As a team, do a final check before submitting the best copy (with all revisions completed) to me for payment (grade).



This rubric for scoring of the project depends on how many people were in the group and how many articles were written. See weighting information below. The project will be on a 100-point scale. If there are four writers and one Brochure Designer, layout will be 20 pts. as will each article.

Layout – equally weighted with articles:

Articles – each article will be weighted equally and must include:

  • Accurate information on your topic (see requirements above)

  • 1-3 key quotes on your topic (significant/appropriate)

  • 1-3 images, photos, works of art on your topic (cited)

  • 1-3 location names provided (the names of the attractions)

Editing – this is a given and points will be deducted for each error!

  • No grammatical or usage errors in written articles

  • Correctly cited photos, images, quotes.

(You do not need a formal Works Cited for this creative brochure, but you do need to attribute each quote to the correct person. If the person is not as famous as Langston Hughes, but merely the author of a Web page, you must also give their page's address in parenthesis. You also need to acknowledge images that you take from other folks’ Web sites by acknowledging the source--Web page--next to the image or in one list on the last page of the brochure. For artwork of any kind, include the artist’s name when possible.)


Credits: Aaron Douglas is the Harlem Renaissance artist who created the above painting.

Aaron Douglas
Into Bondage 1936
Oil on canvas
153.4 x 153.7 cm
In the Collection of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA
Museum Purchase and Partial Gift of Thurlow Evans Tibbs, Jr.
The Evans-Tibbs Collection

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