Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir - Lesson Plan
On December 10, 1903, the Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir opened in Biloxi, Mississippi. Over the course of fifty-four years, more than 1,800 residents called Beauvoir home. These residents included Confederate veterans, their wives, and widows. In 1957, control of the property was returned to the Mississippi Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans after the last two residents were relocated to retirement homes. In 2014, the University of Southern Mississippi’s Department of History began a study tracing the lives of the veteran residents of the Jefferson Davis Soldier Home from the 1850s through the twentieth century. The Beauvoir Veteran Project has shown that Mississippi’s Confederate home was one of the few to welcome female residents, to have a female superintendent, and to have female members serve on its board of directors.
Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3 and 5
Common Core Standards
RH.3; WHST.2, 4-6
Grades 7 through 12
The student will:
- Determine generalizations and supporting details about an historical event.
- Compose a written assignment from a specific point of view.
Opening the Lesson
The teacher will show the students photographs from the Mississippi History Now article, “Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir.” Additional photographs can also be located on the website for the Beauvoir Veteran Project (beauvoirveteranproject.org). The teacher will ask students the following questions about the photographs:
- Where do you think these photographs were taken?
- Who or what do you see in the photographs?
- How are these photographs connected or relevant to one another?
- Why are photographs an important form of historical documentation?
The teacher will tell the students that they will have an opportunity to learn more about the subjects in the photographs as they study the Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir.
Developing the Lesson
- The teacher will distribute to the students a copy of the Mississippi History Now article, “Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir.” The students will be encouraged to annotate the article as they read. Once students have completed the reading, the teacher will distribute to the students a copy of the Generalizations Chart (attached) or display the chart on a screen or board for students to copy into their notebooks.
- The teacher will have the students reread the Mississippi History Now article in order to complete the Generalizations Chart. The students may work independently or with a partner for this activity.
- Once the students have completed their charts, the teacher will lead a class discussion about the article by asking student volunteers to share information listed on their charts.
- For the next portion of the lesson, the teacher will use the RAFT activity. For this writing activity, students choose a R ole (point of view), A udience (specific reader to whom the assignment is being written), and F ormat (letter, news article, editorial, journal entry, etc.). The T opic for the assignment should be the Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir. The role students should use for this writing assignment should be one that is relevant to the home between 1894 (the date Beauvoir is first suggested as a veterans’ home) and 1957. Students can assume the identity of one of the residents of the home. Information about individual residents can be found on the website for the Beauvoir Veteran Project (beauvoirveteranproject.org). Suggestions for other roles for the writing assignment are listed below.
- One of the individuals mentioned in the Mississippi History Now article
- A citizen writing to a member of the Mississippi legislature in support of the establishment of the Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir
- A newspaper editorial written in support of the establishment of the Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir
- An employee of the Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir
- A newspaper article written about the opening or closing of the Jefferson Davis Soldier Home – Beauvoir
- Once the students have completed their assignments, the teacher may ask for student volunteers to share their assignments with the class.
Closing the Lesson
The teacher can play the recording of Private Laurentine Higbie singing “Veteran’s Last Song,” which is found on the website for the Beauvoir Veteran Project (beauvoirveteranproject.org). The teacher will ask the students to interpret the meaning of the song’s lyrics. The teacher may also ask students to consider if there is a difference between how the public chose to remember or romanticize the lives of Confederate veterans and how these veterans actually lived following the war.
Assessing Student Learning
- Class participation
- Take a field trip to Beauvoir.
- Invite a guest speaker to talk to the students about conducting historical research.
- Conduct research on current issues relevant to Mississippi’s veterans.
- Follow-up this lesson with other Mississippi History Now lesson plans.
Other Mississippi History Now articles
Sarah Anne Ellis Dorsey: A Woman of Uncommon Mind
Mississippi Soldiers in the Civil War
Black Confederate Pensioners after the Civil War
Karla Smith is the Social Studies Department Chair at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College’s Jefferson Davis Campus.
ADDITIONAL LESSON PLANS ON MISSISSIPPI HISTORY: