Using Primary Sources in the Classroom:
The Alabama Constitution of 1901 Unit

Lesson 6: Fact versus Opinion

The constitutional convention convened on Tuesday, May 21, 1901 to begin deliberations on a new constitution. The work of the convention is recorded in The Official Proceedings of the Constitution. On day two John B. Knox of Calhoun County was elected president of the convention. Immediately after his election Knox made a long speech concerning the need for a new constitution.


Objective: For students to be able to distinguish between fact and fiction in a one-day selection of the Official Proceedings of the Alabama 1901 Constitution.


  • Place the students in groups of four. One person is to be the leader. One will be the reporter. One will be in charge of material. Finally, one student will be assigned to keep the group on task.


  • If possible, take the class to the school’s computer lab.

  • On the internet, access the Official Proceedings of the 1901 Consitutitonal Convention. Click on Day 2.


  • If one does not have access to a computer, copies will need to be made for the date of Wednesday May 22nd, 1901, Day two of the Constitutional Convention.


  • Each group is assigned to find 10 facts that can be derived from this day’s proceedings. Write these down; do not share with other groups.


  • Each group is then asked to find 10 opinions based on the same day’s proceedings. Write these down; do not share with other groups.


  • Play the game "Fact versus Opinion." Each group will come to the front of the class and quiz the students using the fact versus opinion group work they completed. Turn the game into a competition.
Assessment: Design a checklist to determine which students have a good comprehension of the idea. The teacher may also use participation.


Document: Official Proceedings of The Constitutional Convention of the State of Alabama, May 21st, 1901, to September 3rd, 1901. Wetumpka Printing Company: Wetumpka, Alabama: 1940.