Breadcrumb

Propaganda Techniques and Harry S. Truman's St. Louis 1948 Reelection Speech

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
One or Two 45 minute class periods with an option of finishing the assignment for homework.
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
This activity will involve analyzing various propaganda techniques in the address delivered by President Harry S. Truman at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 30, 1948, during his reelection campaign.
Description

This activity will involve analyzing various propaganda techniques in the address delivered by President Harry S. Truman at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 30, 1948, during his reelection campaign. Students are to be handed either a hard copy of the address, or the teacher can have students on the computer or Ipads. Either way, use The American Presidency Project website to obtain the speech: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=13081#axzz209wmzTxM

Students should have the option to download on either ITunes for free or through the Harry S. Truman Library Homepage for free the audio version of his reelection address in St. Louis in 1948. The speech and audio will be the artifacts and primary sources used during this activity. After students have obtained a hard or electronic version of President Truman’s 1948 speech, they will then obtain the Propaganda and President Harry S. Truman packet. The teacher will explain to the student that they are looking for three different types of propaganda in the packet from the President Truman speech and also creating and/or finding two other pieces of propaganda of their own. After the students have found all five of their pieces of propaganda, then they will have to analyze each piece of propaganda to see what type of propaganda technique was used and answer the analysis questions at the bottom of the page.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

It seems strange to suggest that the study of propaganda has relevance to the contemporary world. After all, when most people think about propaganda, they imagine enormous campaigns that were generated by Hitler or Stalin or they remember the “Red Scare” of the 1950s in the United States. Since nothing as comparable is being disseminated in society today, many people assume that propaganda is no longer an issue.

However, propaganda can be as blatant as a swastika or as subtle as a joke. Its persuasive techniques are regularly applies by politicians, advertisers, journalists, radio personalities, and others who are interested in influencing human behavior. Some people get paid a lot of money to change the way we think. Propaganda messages can be used to accomplish positive social ends, as campaigns to reduce drunk driving, but they are also used to win elections (as evidenced by this lesson plan) and sell malt liquor.

Propagandists love short cuts – particularly those that evade rational though. They encourage this by agitating emotions, exploiting insecurities, capitalizing on the ambiguity of language and by bending the roles of logic. As history shows, they can be quite successful. With the growth of communication tools like the Internet, the flow of persuasive messages has been accelerated, while the time for intellectual thought, analysis and judgment has been reduced.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • The student will be able to analyze various forms of propaganda techniques in President Harry S. Truman’s reelection campaign speech at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • The student will be able to identify the author’s topic and message of various selections in President Harry S. Truman’s reelection campaign speech at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri.
  • The students will be able to access various websites through the use of a computer or ipads if they are available.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

Missouri
Goal 1: Students in Missouri public schools will acquire the knowledge and skills to gather, analyze and apply information and ideas.
4. use technological tools and other resources to locate, select and organize information
5 comprehend and evaluate written, visual and oral presentations and works
7. evaluate the accuracy of information and the reliability of its sources
Goal 3: Students in Missouri public schools will acquire the knowledge and skills to recognize and solve problems.
5. reason inductively from a set of specific facts and deductively from general premises
Goal 4: Students in Missouri public schools will acquire the knowledge and skills to make decisions and act as responsible members of society.
2. understand and apply the rights and responsibilities of citizenship in Missouri and the United States
3. analyze the duties and responsibilities of individuals in societies

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed
Primary sources needed (document, photograph, artifact, diary or letter, audio or visual recording, etc.) needed
  • Truman, Harry S. "Address at the Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri." Speech presented at Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MO, October 30, 1948. Harry S. Truman Library & Museum Audio Collection. Audio file. October 30, 1948. Accessed July 10, 2012. 
Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?
  • This activity will involve analyzing various propaganda techniques in the address delivered by President Harry S. Truman at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 30, 1948, during his reelection campaign. This was a very close election and students should be aware of how close Republican Thomas Dewey came to defeating President Truman. An optional mini-lesson would be to show students the famous Chicago Tribune story with the headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” and how the Chicago Tribune was shunned from press conferences during the duration of his presidency. Students are to be handed either a hard copy of the address, or the teacher can have students on the computer or Ipads. Either way, use The American Presidency Project website to obtain the speech for copies: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=13081#axzz209wmzTxM.
  • Students should have the option to download on either ITunes for free or through the Harry S. Truman Library Homepage for free the audio version of his reelection address in St. Louis in 1948. The National Archives offers through ITunes many presidential speeches. The speech and audio will be the artifacts and primary sources used during this activity. After students have obtained a hard or electronic version of President Truman’s 1948 speech, they will then obtain the Propaganda and President Harry S. Truman packet. The teacher should go through the packet by explaining directions for and familiarizing the students with the propaganda techniques. The teacher will explain to the student that they are looking for three different types of propaganda in the packet from the President Truman speech and also creating and/or finding two other pieces of propaganda of their own. These two pieces of propaganda can be YouTube videos, historical documents, political cartoons, etc. After the students have found all five of their pieces of propaganda, then they will have to analyze each piece of propaganda to see what type of propaganda technique was used and answer the analysis questions at the bottom of page three of the packet.
  • The teacher will be responsible for using the rubric in the propaganda packet to see how well the students analyzed the propaganda techniques. That is where most of the points occur. If the student at least attempts on the Truman speech or their own creation they get an automatic five points.
  • Propaganda documents
Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

Propaganda and Harry S. Truman’s St. Louis 1948 Reelection Speech

 

For this unit activity, students will be encouraged to identify and analyze various forms of propaganda in President Harry S. Truman’s reelection address to Kiel Auditorium on October 30, 1948. Our class will consider the use of propaganda during World War I and II as a means of review and study propaganda during the Cold War as a major tool of foreign policy and government influence on the society. You must find three different examples of propaganda from this speech and produce two additional examples on your own. Your two productions can look like or be modeled after other pieces of media, but you must construct them with aspects of your own creativity or originality (they can’t just be copied). For your two examples, you can select any historical time period in the 20th century and any current topic in the news. Of the two examples that you create for this project, one must take the form of either a visual poster, a written piece or an example of a video. You will have to do an analysis on each piece of propaganda!!! (See bottom of this page).

 

Types of propaganda to be analyzed

Poster/ visual, written work, video-film

Historical time periods that must be covered (must have one of each)

Step one: President Harry S. Truman’s Reelection Address on October 30, 1948

Step two: Any Two Historical Time Period in 20th century or more currently in the 21st century

 

Rubric for unit activity (15 points per example X 5 = 75 points)

 

______ out of 25 Examples of each piece of propaganda (5 points each)

 

 

 

 

Step three: Answer the Questions below on each of the five pieces of propaganda.

1) What is the topic? What is the creator of this piece of propaganda saying about the topic?

2) What is the message? How did the creator intend to spread this message?

3) Analyze the techniques (see Page 4) observed in this example. Describe how at least two techniques are used and why they would be used to spread this message?

 

______ out of 50 Analysis Answer the following questions: (10 points each)

 

 

 

________ out of 75 (total of 5 propaganda examples)