Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Influential First Ladies
Josh Lefeber
US History
Grade Levels:
6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:


  • Students will be tasked with researching, analyzing, and creating a paper over the influence of a First Lady of the United States. First, students will chose a First Lady to research. Once they begin their research, they will be directed to focus on the accomplishments and influence the First Lady obtained while serving in their role. Students should note the accomplishments of their First Lady and how they left a lasting impact in the White House. After the student has compiled their research, the next step will be to outline their information to begin writing their paper (4 pages) over their First Lady. Once the students complete their paper, they will create a short (3-5 minute) presentation for the class about the influence and lasting impact of their First Lady.




  • The goal of this lesson is for students to recognize the influence of Presidential wives, while noting their accomplishments in serving the Office of the First Lady.


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


  • T1S1C - Develop a research plan, identify appropriate resources for investigating social studies topics, and create and present a research product which applies an aspect of United States history post c. 1870 to a contemporary issue. (May not apply to all First Ladies)

  • T2S1C - Trace the contributions of individuals and institutions on social, political, artistic and economic development.

  • T3S5C - Analyze the changing relationship between individuals and their place in society including women, minorities, and children.


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


Students will be encouraged to utilize these resources to help compile their research about their specific First Lady.


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



Full description of activity or assignment.


  • As a class, the assignment will be introduced to the students. We will focus specifically on the requirements of their paper and presentation highlighting their task of discovering the influence of each First Lady along with their accomplishments. Primary and secondary sources will also be covered.


  • Students will pick a First Lady to research.


  • Once all students have chosen their First Lady, students will then be introduced to the multiple primary and secondary resources listed on their assignment sheet.


  • Students will then begin their research and outlines for their paper, while I facilitate any research assistance or questions a student may have.


  • Once students have compiled their research and completed their outline, students will begin writing their papers.


  • After students finish their paper, they will begin putting their paper into a short 3-5 minute presentation.


  • Students will present their presentations to their class, and after all have finished, a class discussion will be held over the overall influence of our First Ladies.  


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



Influential Presidential Couples (100pts)


Students, you are tasked with researching, writing, and presenting information over one of the First Ladies of the United States. After you have selected a First Lady, use the resources below to research your First Lady focusing on their influence on the Office of the President and her accomplishments as the First Lady. Use your research to compile your major topics into an outline for the paper you will be writing. After your outline is complete, begin writing your four page (minimum) paper highlighting the influence and accomplishments of your First Lady. Upon the completion of your paper, proofread it and create a short 3-5 minute presentation that you will present to the class.


You must have a works cited with a minimum of five sources cited in MLA. (Two must be primary sources)



OUTLINE: (Feel free to incorporate this on another page or in “web” form)



First Lady:_________________________


Moments / Instances of Influence:




Have you proofread? / How are you presenting? / Do you have a script? / Are you using note cards?





Individual / Introduction: 0 2.5 5 7.5 10


Influential Moments / Instances: 0 5 10 15 20 25


Accomplishments: 0 5 10 15 20 25


Conclusion: 0 2.5 5 7.5 10


Grammar / Spelling: 0 2.5 5 7.5 10


Works Cited: 0 2.5 5 7.5 10


Presentation (3-5 minutes): 0 3 9 12 10



Suggested Resources:

Primary Sources below: