The Other Side of the 1920s

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
This will depend on the class time devoted to the research aspect and how the information is presented. Two to five 50-minute class periods (AP classes will have to devote the minimal amount of time.)
Lesson Abstract
Students will research in a group setting and prepare a written report or a PowerPoint presentation (complete with notes) about some aspect of the 1920s that does not fit the stereotype this era.

Students will research in a group setting and prepare a written report or a PowerPoint presentation (complete with notes) about some aspect of the 1920s that does not fit the stereotype this era. Specifically they can research the conditions of African-Americans or women.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Although the "Roaring Twenties" or the "Jazz Age" may accurately represent part of the America of the 1920s, it certainly did not reflect the experience of all Americans. Students need to examine the experiences of the "other America" to get as complete a view of the history of the time as possible.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Research and analyze one aspect of the 1920s (African-Americans or women) that is outside of the stereotype.
  • Use primary and secondary sources in discovering history.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met
  • MO CLE 6 L Analyze how the roles of class, ethnic, racial, gender and age groups have changed in society, including causes and effects
  • MO CLE 7 A Distinguish between and analyze primary sources and secondary sources
  • AP US History 1920's New Era: The ongoing struggle for equality: African Americans and women

Missouri Standards

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

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


Kansas Standards

Benchmark 1: The student uses a working knowledge and understanding of individuals, groups, ideas, developments, and turning points in the era of the emergence of the modern United States (1890-1930).

8. (K) retraces the progress of the women’s suffrage movement from the state to the national arena (e.g., Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul, states granting voting rights in the 19th Amendment).

9. (A) analyzes factors that contributed to changes in work, production and the rise of a consumer culture during the 1920’s (e.g., leisure time, technology, communication, travel, assembly line, credit buying).

Benchmark 5: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

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

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
  • Any AP or college text.
  • Postage Stamp Image - image of US postage stamp with an African-American jazz ban.

Below is a partial list of some websites that might be useful in research if the teachers choose to help students narrow their search.

Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?
  • This assignment is designed for AP students in the third quarter of the year. They should be relatively self-directed by this point.
  • After students have completed reading the chapter in their text on the 1920s, use the pictures in the text as the jumping off point for the assignment. Every American history text has a picture of flappers and a picture of an African-American jazz band. If you have trouble with the African-American jazz band, an image location is listed above.
  • The challenge to the AP students now is to find out how accurate these images are in representing the real situation of women and African-Americans. They are to research using both primary and secondary sources to assess the validity of these images as representing not the ideal but the reality of these groups during the 1920s. Do these images reflect the reality of the majority of the populations (remind students that all women should be considered and not just WASP’s)? If not then, what were the realities for women and African-Americans during the 1920s in America?
  • Students should be divided into groups of 3 or 4.
  • They have the option of presenting their findings in either a PowerPoint, with extensive notes added to the notes section or as a paper that would include graphics. Either way, I like students to hand their work in electronically so that it can be posted on drives with student access.
  • Requirements for the assignment:
    • Minimum of 4 primary sources (only 2 photos may count towards this total) and 2 secondary sources (textbook does not count)—fully documented.
    • Students should use electronic and print resources.
    • Should be "stand-alone"when done, meaning that another student can pick up the paper or the PowerPoint and fully understand the message without any further explanation.
    • Although a partial list of websites is provided by me below, I would probably not provided these to my AP students—these are AP students who have been trained in research.
  • No predetermined length, but the questions should be fully addressed (AP students should have a feel at this point in the year of what is expected.). A clear thesis is expected at the beginning of the assignment.
  • Teachers can allow students to present their work if time permits or simply to turn them in and make them available to other students. Presentations would be ideal, but realistically sometimes in AP time is not available.
Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide
  • The points would vary based on the point-value the teacher would assign to the project.
  • Obviously the categories could also be weighted if a teacher wanted to emphasize one particular aspect of the project.

Rubric for 1920s Project

Student Name(s)_____________________________Final Grade________

  Thesis Information Gathering and Evaluating Analysis Synthesis Documentation Product/Process
4 Student(s) created a thesis that clearly and effectively addressed the questions posed in the assignment. The thesis showed evidence of thoughtful analysis after research. The thesis was not general, but specific Student(s) gathered information from a variety of quality electronic and print sources, exceeding the required minimums of 4 primary sources and 2 secondary sources. Student(s) carefully analyzed the information collected and drew appropriate and inventive conclusions supported by evidence. Voice of the student writer(s) is evident. Student(s) developed appropriate structure for communicating product, incorporating variety of quality sources. Information is logically and creatively organized with smooth transitions. Student(s) documented all sources,. Sources are properly cited, both in-text/in-product and on Works-Cited/Works-Consulted pages/slides. Documentation is error-free. Student(s) effectively and creatively used appropriate PowerPoint or paper to convey their conclusions and demonstrated thorough, effective research techniques. Product displays writing worthy of an AP student
3 Student(s) created thesis that clearly and effectively addressed the questions posed in the assignment. May be somewhat simplistic and does not reflect solid analysis of research. Student(s) gathered information from a variety of relevant sources--print and electronic, meeting the required number of primary and electronic sources. Student(s) product shows good effort was made in analyzing the evidence collected Student(s) logically organized the product and made good connections among ideas Student(s) documented sources with some care, Sources are cited, both in-text/in-product and on Works-Cited/Works-Consulted pages/slides. Few errors noted. Student(s) effectively communicated the results of research to the audience. AP worthy.
2 Student(s) provided a thesis that partially answered the questions posed by the assignment. Student(s) gathered information from a limited range of sources and displayed minimal effort in selecting quality resources Student(s) conclusions could be supported by stronger evidence. Level of analysis could have been deeper. Student(s) could have put greater effort into organizing the product Student(s) need to use greater care in documenting sources. Documentation was poorly constructed or absent. Student(s) need to work on communicating more effectively. One would not guess an AP students wrote this piece.
1 Student(s) did not provide a thesis. Student(s) gathered information that lacked relevance, quality, depth and balance. Student(s) conclusions simply involved restating information. Conclusions were not supported by evidence. Student(s) work is not logically or effectively structured. Student(s) clearly plagiarized materials. Student(s) showed little evidence of thoughtful research. Product does not effectively communicate research findings.