Library of Congress

TPS Quarterly

The Library of Congress > Teachers > TPS Program > Learning Activity (Sec.)

Picturing American Industrialization: The Chicago Stockyards


In this activity, students use visual literacy strategies to “read” primary source photographs of the meatpacking industry in the Chicago Stockyards and to organize and reflect on their findings. Intended for use within a larger unit of study about the rise of American industrialization, the activity is designed to accommodate different levels of student comprehension and ability.


After completing this learning activity, students will be able to:

  • perform a basic primary source analysis
  • generate questions about the Chicago Stockyards and the meatpacking industry for further investigation
  • make historical and personal connections with the content

Time Required

Two class periods

Recommended Grade Range



Cities, Towns; Technology, Industry

Subject/ Sub-Subject

Social Studies


McREL 4th Edition Standards and Benchmarks

Historical Understanding

Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective

United States History

Standard 16. Understands how the rise of corporations, heavy industry, and mechanized farming transformed American society

Language Arts

Standard 4. (Writing) Gathers and uses information for research purposes

Standard 7. (Reading) Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts

Standard 8. (Listening and Speaking) Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes

Standard 9. (Viewing) Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media


Xiuwen Wu, Associate Professor, Special Education, Diversity in Learning and Teaching Department, National-Louis University, Skokie, Illinois.

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