Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

The Marshall Plan from the Perspective Political Cartoons and Posters
Michael Young
U. S. History
Time Frame:
Two or more 45 minute class periods will be required to complete the lesson
Marshall Plan
Political Cartoons

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Students will complete in-class and outside of class assignments using political cartoons, posters and documents.
  • Students will be directed to access a variety of Internet sites that include primary documents as well as guides for analyzing primary documents i.e. political cartoons and posters
  • Students will engage in cooperative learning and individual learning activities when they analyze political cartoons and posters related to the Marshall Plan
  • Students will analyze the speech delivered at Harvard on by Secretary of State George Marshall June 5, 1947
  • As part of the assessment, students will create their own political cartoon and a rubric will be provided for the teachers

  • To assist students in developing skills that will enable them to analyze political cartoons and political posters and develop an understanding of the different perspectives of the Marshall Plan

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

Omaha, NE  Public Schools 9th Grade U.S. History Standards

01: Examine and analyze conflict and resolution both domestically and internationally in the 20th and 21st centuries

03: Interpret (writing, discussion and debate) primary and secondary sources

Omaha, NE Public Schools 11th Grade. Modern History

04: Explain how certain cultural characteristics such as language, ethnic heritage, religion, political philosophies,

shared history and social and economic system can link or divide regions and cause global conflicts in the 20th

 Century such as World War II and the Cold War


05: Demonstrate historical research and geographic skills in the study of global interaction, global struggles, global

political and global economic and culture changes. 

  1. Utilize primary and secondary sources. 
  2. Select, classify and analyze major world events in various arenas
  3. Construct a timeline demonstrating effective writing and technology skills

 National United States History Standards for Grades 5-12

Standard 2: The student comprehends a variety of historical sources:

Standard 3: The causes and course of World War II, the character of the war at home and abroad, and its reshaping of

the U.S. role in world affairs 

Standard 4: The Causes and Global Consequences of World War II

Thinking Standard 3: The student engages in historical analysis and interpretation:

Thinking Standard 4: The student conducts historical research:

Thinking Standard 5: The student engages in historical issues-analysis and decision-making

National World History Standards:

 A Half-Century of Crisis and Achievement, 1900-1945 

Standard 4: The Causes and global consequences of World War II

Standard 5A: The student understands major global trends from 1900 to the end of World War II. 

The 20th Century Since 1945:  Promises and Paradoxes 

Standard 1B: The student understands why global power shifts took place and the Cold War broke out in the aftermath    of World War II. Explain the causes and international and local consequences of major Cold War crises

Standard 2B: The student understands how increasing economic interdependence has transformed human society. 


National Center for History in the Schools.  UCLA


Historical Thinking Standard 3

The student engages in historical analysis and interpretation: 

Therefore, the student is able to:

  • Compare and contrast differing sets of ideas, values, personalities, behaviors, and institutions by identifying

likenesses and differences. 

  • Consider multiple perspectives of various peoples in the past by demonstrating their differing motives, beliefs,

 interests, hopes, and fears.

  • Analyze cause-and-effect relationships bearing in mind multiple causation including

(a) the importance of the individual in history

(b) the influence of ideas, human interests, and beliefs

 (c) the role of chance, the accidental and the irrational.

  • Draw comparisons across eras and regions in order to define enduring issues as well as large-scale or long-term

developments that transcend regional and temporal boundaries.

  • ·         Distinguish between unsupported expressions of opinion and informed hypotheses grounded in historical  


  • Compare competing historical narratives.  
  • Challenge arguments of historical inevitability by formulating examples of historical contingency, of how

different choices could have led to different consequences.  

  • Hold interpretations of history as tentative, subject to changes as new information is uncovered, new voices

heard, and new interpretations broached.  

  • Evaluate major debates among historians concerning alternative interpretations of the past.
  • Hypothesize the influence of the past, including both the limitations and opportunities made possible by past



Kansas Standards

Benchmark 3: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas,
developments, and turning points in the era of the Cold War (1945-1990).
2. analyzes the origins of the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the
Soviet Bloc, Mao’s victory in China, Marshall Plan, Berlin Blockade,
Iron Curtain).
3. (A) evaluates the foreign policies of Truman and Eisenhower during
the Cold War (e.g., establishment of the United Nations,
containment, NATO, Truman Doctrine, Berlin Blockade, Korean
War, Iron Curtain, U-2 incident).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.
3.(A) uses primary and secondary sources about an event in U.S.
history to develop a credible interpretation of the event, evaluating
on its meaning (e.g., uses provided primary and secondary sources
to interpret a historical-based conclusion).


Missouri Standards

3aW:  Describe and evaluate the evolution of United States domestic and foreign policies including the Cold War.
3aY:  Describe the changing character of American society and culture.
7C:  Distinguish between fact and opinion and analyze sources to recognize bias and points of view.

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


All materials needed for this lesson are available online or incorporated into the lesson itself.  Consult the following    

    bibliography for pertinent sources.


Diploma History with Mr. Conway Cold War Cartoons



Exploring the Marshall Plan Through Primary Documents. [Excellent lesson plan. Rubric for

            political cartoon/photograph/



For European Recovery. Exhibition. The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Marshall Plan Library of




George C. Marshall Foundation [Excellent; various foreign posters submitted for contest with

            translations in English]



George C. Marshall. Soldier of Peace.  Exhibition



Images of the Marshall Plan



Library of Congress. Exhibition. For European Recovery



Library of Congress.  Teachers.  Teachers’ Guides and Analysis Tools



Library of Congress.  Teaching with Primary Sources.  The Marshall Plan



National Archives Featured Documents.  Marshall Plan



National Archives.  Toolbox.  Analysis worksheets.



One Hundred Milestone Documents.  Marshall Plan. National Archives.



Primary Source Worksheets.  Truman Library



SOCC.  Visual Image Analysis



Speech by George Marshall. June 5, 1947.  Modern History Sourcebook



Supplemental Pictures and Documents.  Marshall Plan



Teaching with the Marshall Plan [Photographs and cartoons]



Teaching with Primary Sources.  LOC. [Several political cartoons illustrated]         



The Granger Collection.  Daniel Fitzpatrick. St. Louis-Dispatch. [Political Cartoon]



The Legacy of the Marshall Plan.  “The Marshall Plan.” Pp. 1-38. Teacher Conference July 9-13, 2012.

 Teacher Resource Manual. Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. [Contains several political

cartoons and documents]


The Strategy of Containment. 1947-48. Lesson 2. EDSITEment



Transcript of the Marshall Plan. 1948. National Archives



Truman and the Marshall Plan.  Truman Library



Truman Doctrine/Marshall Plan



USAID  from the American People. Marshall Plan Home Page



USAid.  Marshall Plan. Study Guide for Educators. [Contains video clips, lesson plan

            suggestions, etc.



Voices Educational Projects [Political cartoons]


Technology Required:
Full description of activity or assignment.
  1. Assign students to read George Marshall’s speech at Harvard U. on June 5, 1947. 

The speech is located at http://www.marshallfoundation.org/library/MarshallPlanSpeechfromRecordedAddress_000.html.

  1.  Provide students with a copy of the speech or let them read it online
  2. Discuss the content of the speech with students.  The following questions could be used to stimulate

student analysis:

  • What did Marshall mean when he made the following statement: “that this visible

destruction was probably less serious than the dislocation of the entire fabric of European


  • Was Marshall making reference to a certain country when he made the following

statement?  If so, why? “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but

against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.”

Marshall made the following statement “It would be neither fitting nor efficacious for this Government to undertake to

 draw up unilaterally a program designed to place Europe on its feet economically. This is the business of the Europeans.”  Do you think Marshall would make a similar statement today with reference to European economic problems?


  1. Discuss with students the key characteristics of political cartoons and political posters.  Have student first read

 the Opper Project description located at http://hti.osu.edu/opper/editorial-cartoons or provide them with a hard

copy of the material.

  1. Provide students with a copy of the political cartoon Handout A or via a power point presentation. 
  2.  Allow students to view the political cartoon and then initiate an oral discussion of the political cartoon. 

Engage students in a discussion of the political cartoon using the National Archives political cartoon analysis

worksheet Handout B as a model for analyzing a political cartoon. 

  1. Distribute a hard copy of political poster Handout C to the students or include in a power point presentation.

 Instruct students to analyze the poster for 5 minutes and then engage them in an oral discussion of the poster

using the following questions to spark the discussion:

a. What symbols are used?

b. Are any countries being identified?  How are they identified?

c. What is a protractor?  How is it being depicted in the poster?

d. What country is the author of the poster from?  How do you know?

e. What would be a possible caption for the poster? 

6. Assign four groups of students (cooperative learning strategy) to analyze one of the Marshall Plan political

posters located at  http://library.marshallfoundation.org/posters/library/posters/marshall.php (other than the poster

created by Spreckmeester. Indicate to each student group that they have to analyze a different poster.

  1. Indicate to students they are to use Handout D as a guide for their analysis of a political poster.  Instruct each

group of students to select one representative from their group to share their analysis with the class. (NOTE: 

Inform students that the captions for the posters for Italy and Switzerland have been switched in error.)

  1. Instruct each student to select one political cartoon related to the Marshall Plan from one of the following

 Internet sites:

a. Diploma History with Mr. Conway Cold War Cartoons



b. Teaching with Primary Sources.  LOC. [Several political cartoons illustrated]     



c .  Handout E.  Six political cartoons taken from The Legacy of the Marshall Plan. Teacher Conference

            July 9-13, 2012. “Marshall Plan. Pp. 1-38. Teacher Resource Manual .  Harry S. Truman Library

            and Museum

  1. Instruct students to use the Opper Project “Editorial Cartoon Analysis Worksheet” located at      

http://hti.osu.edu/opper to analyze the political cartoon he/she selects.  Either have students submit their     

            individual analysis forms for teacher evaluation or have selected students   briefly share their analysis of a    

            political cartoon with their classmates.

  1. Conclusion to the lesson.  The teacher can engage the students in a discussion of the Marshall Plan lesson by

using the following guided questions

  1.  How does national origin affect a person’s perspective of the Marshall Plan?
  2. How might the former Soviet Union, Western European countries and the United States view the Marshall Plan


  1. Do all Americans agree on the success of the Marshall Plan?
  2. Should a plan similar to the Marshall Plan be passed by Congress today to assist other countries?  If so, which


  1.  What are the typical characteristics and symbols of effective political cartoons and political posters?  
  2. Which political cartoons and/or political posters related to the Marshall Plan were most effective and why?

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Each student will be required to create a political cartoon or poster related to the Marshall Plan

The following rubric could be used for evaluating a political poster. 

Rubric for poster created by a student

Student _________________________                        Score ________








Organization and preparation

Organization is creative and preparation is readily evident


Creative use of ideas, examples and resources

Organization of the illustrations is clear and concise


Ideas and examples demonstrated are well linked

Organization is attempted but is incomplete


Needs additional connections between the ideas and more examples

Limited preparation and poor organization


Lacks connection between ideas generated and examples demonstrated


Knowledge of topic

Student clearly shows understanding of political concept.


Topic is focused, clear and authentically and creatively achieves the purpose.

Student mostly shows understanding of political concept.


 Topic is focused and authentically achieves the purpose

Student shows some understanding of political concept.


States the purpose but does not effectively achieve it

Student shows no understanding of political concept.


Lacks clarity and purpose; little attempt made to achieve purpose


Creativity of the product

Final product’s appearance is uniquely creative


Engages the reader to be receptive

Final product’s appearance is attractive and creative


Engages the reader to be receptive

Final product’s appearance has limited impact


Some attempt made to engage the reader

Final product is not neat and lacks necessary detail


Little attempt made to engage the reader.


Visual expression of ideas

Text and graphics are clearly legible and expressive of unique ideas


Text and graphics are mostly legible and ideas are expressed with some success

Text and graphics are somewhat legible and ideas are expressed with some success

Text and graphics are not legible and are ineffective in expressing his/her ideas.





The following rubric could be used to evaluate a political cartoon

Rubric for Political Cartoon








More than five

Five separate

Five facts are

Fewer than

No facts are


separate facts are

facts are

included in the

five facts are

included in


included in the

included in the


included in the

the cartoon.








All facts are accurate.

Facts are accurate with

Facts are accurate with no

The cartoon has at least one

The cartoon contains more



no more than one minor error.

more than two minor errors.

major error or three minor errors.

than two major errors or more than






three minor








All information is well organized

Information is well organized

Information is well organized

Information is poorly

Information is disorganized


and arranged

with no more

with no more

organized with

and difficult



than one minor

than two errors.

more than

to read.





three errors.



The message to the viewers is clear and strong. It is easy for the viewer to

The message to the viewer is clear. It is easy for the viewer to

The message to the viewer is clear. It is not a strong message

The message is unclear or weak. It is difficult for the viewer to

No message is given to the viewer.


understand the

understand the


understand the









The illustration


The illustration




is drawn neatly with excellent details. It is free from smudges. The caption and the title are written neatly and fully explain the picture.

illustration is drawn neatly with good details. The caption and the title summarize the picture. The caption and title are neatly written.

is drawn neatly. A caption and title identify the subject of the picture. The caption and the title are printed clearly.

illustration is drawn poorly. There are few details. The caption and the title do not identify or explain the picture. The caption and title are not

illustration is missing.  The title or caption is missing.





written neatly.






Grade earned_______