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Marshall Plan Oral Histories

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
Two days of class time, week for paper
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will analyze oral histories related to the Marshall Plan.


  1. Go to Truman and the Marshall Plan to see Marshall Plan documents and photographs
  2. Marshall Foundation Oral Histories
    Truman Library Oral Histories
  3. Scroll through the names of the people whose interviews are shown.  Click on a few and read the beginning comments. Keep a list of who you previewed.
  4. Choose one oral interview to read completely.  Give the teacher a list of whose interviews you previewed and whose interview you chose.
  5. Summarize the interview, in one page.
  6. If necessary, do additional research on your person.

Write a short paper showing how what this person did, fit into the Marshall Plan.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)
  • To get student familiar with oral histories.
  • To get students to see how what one person does fits into a bigger picture.
  • To have students show an understanding of the Marshall Plan.
Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • become familiar with oral histories as primary sources.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the Marshall Plan.
  • demonstrate an understanding of how what one person does fits into the larger picture.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Curriculum Standards for Social Studies

Standard IX

            Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of global connections and interdependence, so that the learner can:

  1.  analyze the causes, consequences and possible solutions to persistent, contemporary and emerging global issues, such as health, security, resource allocation, economic development and environmental quality. 

Taken from the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Website

Course Level Expectations

3a Knowledge of continuity and change in the history of the United States

W.   Foreign and domestic policy development

Describe and evaluate the evolution of Unites States domestic and foreign policy from the Reconstruction to the present. 

Kansas StandardsBenchmark 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).

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • Textbook for basic understanding of Marshall Plan.
  • Teacher lecture and clarification of procedures.
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • Oral histories from website mentioned in the procedure.
  • Choice of databases: SIRS, Ebscohost, Issues and Controversies, World Almanac, from the library website.
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?
  • Students will read from the textbook the background information for the Marshall Plan.
  • Teacher will lead discussion about the Marshall Plan.
  • Students will investigate oral histories.
  • Students will choose one oral history on which to focus.
  • Students will turn in a listing of the oral histories they previewed, as well as the name of the person whose oral history on which they will focus. 
  • Students will write a paper showing that they understand not only the oral history they chose, but how what that person did fit into the overall success of the Marshall Plan.
Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide
  • Day 1 – grade is given for the list of interviews you previewed and the choice of who you plan to study in depth. Possible points 10
  • Day 2 – grade is given for the summary of the oral interview.  This is handed in at the beginning of the class session directly after the study of the oral histories.  This day is devoted to additional research on your person, or the Marshall Plan. Grade is given for staying on task in your research. Paper – possible points 20, Staying on task – possible points 10.
  • Day 3 – grade is given for the paper written in which student demonstrates their understanding, not only of the Marshall Plan, but the individual’s part in the success or failure of the Marshall Plan.  Paper – possible points 60.  Total  possible points for assignment 100. 
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