Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Analyzing a Political Comic Book Prepared for the 1948 Campaign
Social Studies, Communication Arts, Fine Arts
Time Frame:
2-3 class periods
Primary Source Analysis
Political Cartoons

Grade Levels:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

This Comic Book, summarizing the life of Harry S. Truman from his birth in 1884 to his role as president after WWII, was produced by the Democratic Party as a political propaganda tool. There are several ways this comic book can be used in a classroom setting to enhance your communication arts, fine arts or social studies lessons. These suggestions can be adopted or adapted for all grade levels.

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

Missouri Standards

SS 6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

SS 7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)


CA 3. reading and evaluating nonfiction works and material (such as biographies, newspapers, technical manuals)

CA 4. writing formally (such as reports, narratives, essays) and informally (such as outlines, notes)

FA 5. visual and performing arts in historical and cultural contexts



(Social Studies) Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

1. (A) analyzes a theme in world history to explain patterns of continuity and change over time.

2. (A) develops historical questions on a specific topic in world history and analyzes the evidence in primary source documents to speculate on the answers.

(Writing) Benchmark 2: The student writes expository text using the writing process.

2. Clearly defines the main idea by selecting relevant, logical details that meet the reader’s informational needs. (Ideas and Content: prewriting, drafting, revising: (N,E,T,P)

3. Selects and uses (1) personal experience (2) personal observations (3) prior knowledge (4) research to meet the reader’s needs and to create appropriate point of view. (Ideas and Content: prewriting, drafting, revising: (N,E,T,P)

4. Expresses information in own words using appropriate organization, grammar, word choice, and tone sufficient to the audience. (Ideas and Content: prewriting, drafting, revising: (N,E,T,P)

(Fine Arts) Benchmark 2: The student describes different visual effects produced by a variety of materials, techniques, and processes in works of art.

  1. correctly identifies different media, techniques, and processes.

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Technology Required:

Access to computer

Full description of activity or assignment.

Biography Writing:

When focusing on biography writing, students can view this comic book as an example of a unique way of summarizing the life of an individual, rather than using a standard essay format. Print off copies of the comic book and have students analyze its contents and the brainstorm what parts are effective and how the story of this person's life progresses through the pages. If groups or partners are researching famous people, they can use this comic book as an example of sticking to basic and interesting facts to provide a quick and effective summary of someone's life. Students could then produce comic books of individuals they are studying.

Fine arts:

In a fine arts setting, cartoons are not always considered. This booklet and other comic books could be analyzed for common traits of this art form and discuss why this art form has been an effective example of using art as a communication tool. What basic concepts are used in each comic book viewed?

Compare and contrast Truman biographies:

Students can compare and contrast the information in the comic book with the information provided in the brief biographies listed on line at:

  • 1948 Campaign Information: Highlights of the Career of Harry S. Truman
  • Truman Biography
  • Truman Comic Book