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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Primary Source Set

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, published in 1960, quickly became a success with both critics and the public. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, the novel has been translated into forty different languages and sold more than 40 million copies, earning its description as “one of the best novels of the twentieth century.” In To Kill a Mockingbird, set in the deeply prejudiced South in the midst of the Great Depression, an adult Jean Louise “Scout” Finch tells her story of growing up in Maycomb, Alabama. Scout learns about prejudice and empathy as events unfold around her. Her father, Atticus Finch, is the court-appointed lawyer for Tom Robinson, a black man accused of rape. Lee takes the story straight from the headlines in the 1930s when the Scottsboro boys (nine young men) were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train. The social iniquities of a small Southern town are brought to life through the innocent eyes of a young girl. This primary source set includes photographs, documents, and objects that provide context for historical and thematic elements within To Kill a Mockingbird.

Additional resources for research

  1. Famous American Trials: “The Scottsboro Boys” Trials, 1931-1937, University of Missouri Kansas City.
  2. History, Scottsboro Boys Museum and Cultural Center.
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Melbourne High School.

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