Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

White House First Ladies
Kevin Harmon
US History
Time Frame:
Suggested that 15-20 minutes be given for research over a 5- 10 class periods. 2-3 days to present.
Grade Levels:
6, 7, 8

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:


  • The students will have read (textbook) assignments covering the American Presidents from Washington to Bush 1.

  • Students will have completed close reads of historic documents(ex.Gettysburg Address).

  • Students will have completed concept(mind) maps of American History( from American Revolution

     to President Bush).

  • Students will have completed critical book reviews of persons, battles or wars in American History.



Students in general have very little knowledge of the 1st Ladies. This activity will help introduce the students to the important role they have played in American History.

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


  • Reading history 6-8.2 cite textual information, 6-8.7 distinguish fact, opinion, reasoned judgement

  • Writing history- 6-8.2 writing informational / explanatory text

  • 6-8.6 use of technology

  • 6-8.7 conduct a short research project

  • KCCRS 1,2,7,8,9

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


  • C-Span’s First Ladies: Influence & Image

  • Textbook

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


  • Presidential Libraries-example-www.LBJLibrary.org,

  • http://www.museumreister.com

  • Christopher Newport University

  • National 1st Ladies Library

  • Library of Congress

Full description of activity or assignment.


  • Students will pick two 1st Ladies- one before 1960, one after 1960

  • Each student will present a video on one or both First Ladies

  • Each student will write a 3 paragraph(4-6 sentences each)  comparison of the First Ladies- how were they alike? different? and contributions they made

  • The student must cite at least one primary source in comparison per First Lady


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


  • Research time- on task- 20 pts.,mostly on task- 15pts., some work done-10pts.

  • shows video on topic,able to comment on content- 20 pts., video has some connection to subject-10 pts.

  • Comparison essay- 50-45 pts-- Essay contrasts the First Ladies,cites at least one primary source,3 complete paragraphs(4-6 sentences), and uses proper grammar.

  • 44-36 pts.-contrasts the First Ladies, cites at least one primary source,brief paragraphs, grammar mistakes.

  • 35-30 pts.- weak contrast of First Ladies , fails to cite primary sources, short paragraphs, poor grammar.