A New Deal for the Arts - WPA Photographs
Grade Levels: 6 - 8INTRODUCTION
Students will learn about the 1930s, especially school life during that time, by studying photographs and then comparing and contrasting them to contemporary schools.
- Tell students that they are going to look at photographs that were taken during the 1930s. Ask them what they know about the Great Depression and President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal program. After noting some of their ideas, describe the program to students. (See the Teacher Information Sheet for more information.)
- Today, the Library of Congress houses thousands of the black and white images taken by New Deal photographers, most of which are available online: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/fsahtml/fahome.html. To introduce the site to the class, you might read the introductory text on this page aloud. (More background information about the collections exists at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/fsahtml/fabout.html.) Tell students that these photographs are vital primary source materials. Unlike a history book that is information filtered through several sources (including the writer and editor) these photographs are original material from the 1930s that can be used to learn about the people and customs of the day. The students’ task is to view a series of photographs in the collection and use them to compare and contrast the 1930s with today.
- Divide students into pairs or small groups. Direct them to the aforementioned Library of Congress website and have them complete the School Pictures Worksheet.
Standards at McRel: http://www.mcrel.org/standards-benchmarks/
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