Students analyze primary sources from the Federal Writers' Project American Life Histories collection to gain a better understanding of the Depression-era beginnings of New Deal government programs, some of which continue to the present day. Next, students will investigate contemporary government programs stemming from or similar to New Deal programs as they consider the question, "How much should the United States government and state governments be involved in helping improve the lives of its citizens?" After examining and researching legislation in groups, students will prepare position papers on their programs, participate in a Congressional Policy Forum to debate the pros and cons of each policy, and vote on which three pieces of legislation they will recommend to Congress.
Pair the picture book, Thanks to Frances Perkins: Fighter for Workers’ Rights, with primary sources to highlight how one person can influence the thinking of a nation while having students investigate the historical origins of social security. After, students can connect with seniors to share their learning and interview them about their experiences with social security today.