Three analysis worksheets designed to help students think critically as they carefully examine posters promoting the WPA, the CCC, and the Social Security program -- key elements of FDR's New Deal legislation intended to help the United States rise above the Great Depression!
About These New Deal Primary Analysis Worksheets
Using primary sources in class is a powerful way to illustrate history and bring it to life. When it comes to the New Deal, there's a huge wealth of primary sources in the form of propaganda posters readily available via image searches.
The trouble with just using the images in class, however, is that all too often, students will simply glance at the poster before claiming to thoroughly understand it. Even when assigned to write a paragraph about a New Deal propaganda poster, students may only explore the most obvious points instead of delving deeper.
A Focus on Analysis, not Just Observation!
These New Deal Primary Source Propaganda worksheets ask students to do more than just note what images and text exist in the New Deal posters under study. They also require students to determine WHY certain text and image elements were included, using questions that explore issues such as:
• What caused the artist to use a certain color scheme?
• What was the propaganda poster creator trying to communicate by including certain image elements?
• How does the overall look of the poster create a message of inclusion or exclusion from certain government programs and policies?
• What do various design elements imply about the program or policy in question?
Learning by Doing
Once students have some experience answering these pre-made analysis questions, they will understand a lot more about not just the New Deal itself, but also about the ways in which propaganda artists influence their audiences. With this new understanding, they'll be ready to tackle a couple of fun and interesting New Deal project follow-ups:
• Find additional New Deal posters online and create your own analysis questions about them. To start, I usually encourage students to write three to five "observation" questions simply asking about what is there in the poster in terms of text and images. Then I ask them to write three to five analysis questions as well, but zeroing in on WHY those text and images were included? What was the artist thinking by including those? Doing this two-phase approach helps students to create analysis questions that actually analyze by drawing a clear distinction between mere observation and true analysis.
• Become a propaganda artist yourself! Identify a New Deal program that intrigues you and create a poster promoting it. Make deliberate choices in terms of image elements, colors, fonts, layout, and text in order to influence your audience to support your chosen program. Once posters have been created, the class could vote on which ones are most persuasive.
Teacher Convenience Features
• Three separate worksheets, each one focusing on a specific New Deal program.
• Each worksheet includes a complete rendering of the poster under study along with six multiple choice questions for students to answer.
• Two of the posters included are full-color, while one was created only in black and white.
• Full answer keys are included for each worksheet.
• Multiple choice means FAST correcting!