Courts in the Classroom
Supreme Court of Indiana
Division of State Court Administration
30 S. Meridian Street, Ste 500
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Dr. Elizabeth R. Osborn
Court History and
Public Education Programs
History Project Award
from the National Council
on Public History
This scripted trial commemorates an important case that challenged the prohibition of slavery found in Indiana's 1816 Constitution (State v. Lasselle). The play follows the struggles of Polly Strong, a young enslaved black woman from Vincennes, as she navigates Indiana's courts and successfully gains her freedom.
Teachers are encouraged to use the materials below in their own classrooms to re-enact Polly's struggle. Resources provided include the script, a teacher's guide, and historic documents related to the case including transcription.
The play was written with the intention that an adult play the role of Polly and with students filling all of the other roles such as Polly's attorneys, the Supreme Court judges, her family, and the man claiming to own her. It works well with students from 4th-12th grade.
This program was developed by Courts in the Classroom and the Leora Brown School with funding from the Indiana Bar Foundation.
CITC staff would be happy to talk with you as you plan your event. Send pictures following your production and we may include them in our online photo gallery.