Students frequently echo sentiments such as, "The government is too big," or "The government should make welfare mothers pay for their own needs." It seems that many citizens, high schoolers included, have begun to believe in reduced government combined with increased personal responsibility. Such sentiments suggest a move away from belief in the welfare state, created largely by the New Deal in the 1930s and reinforced by the "Great Society" legislation of the 1960s. By using the collection American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 documents, personal interviews, and the Library of Congress's online legislative information (THOMAS), students will be able to gain a better understanding of why the government takes care of its people and how this type of welfare state started. Armed with this knowledge, they can then evaluate the current need of government programs, such as welfare, Medicare and Social Security, on the federal and state level.
Students will be able to:
- Understand the connection between past and present history, particularly related to government funded programs.
- Research legislation from the Depression era and legislation currently proposed on the federal and state levels.
- Use the resources from the Library of Congress American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 collection, THOMAS, local libraries and personal interviews.
- Learn to research different viewpoints on controversial issues using the American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 collection, THOMAS, e-mail and local libraries.
- Write clearly, speak articulately and think critically.
- Present their work publicly in a debate, through e-mail or in a forum.
Two to three weeks.
Recommended Grade Level
- Government, Law & Politics
- Great Depression and WWII, 1929-1945
Douglas Perry and Wendy Sauer