Everyday Life in the 1920s


Lesson Overview                                                                                                            

This lesson serves as an introduction to primary source documents in preparation for research middle school students will do for National History Day.


Lesson Author


Lori Baker


Williams Intermediate School, Davenport, Iowa


Lesson Audience

Grade Level


# of Class Periods



Honor Language Arts

Length of Period

45 minutes


Objectives                                                                                                               Back to Navigation Bar

Student will:

1.      identify aspects of family life, transportation, fashion and communication of the 1920s

2.      compare these aspects to our present day aspects,

3.      analyze and answer questions related to primary source documents.




Materials                                                                                                                 Back to Navigation Bar


Primary Source Analysis Sheet

Examples of Primary Documents


Online Resources (hyperlink)

  1. http://www.lindberghfoundation.org/docs/index.php/lindbergh-history/charles-lindbergh


Handouts (Handouts embedded in Appendix): Primary Source Analysis Sheet

Classroom Procedures                                                                 Back to Navigation Bar

Prior Learning (background information, vocabulary)

The student will need to know:

  1. The differences between primary and secondary source documents
  2. Where and how to find primary source documents
  3. How to determine if a resource is reliable

Day 1:

  1. Introduce students to primary resources by showing physical examples of photos and documents or share examples that can be found online.
  2. Discuss differences between primary and secondary resources.
  3. Assign students to complete the Document Analysis Sheet for two of the resources in this lesson.

Day 2:

  1. Continue assignment to study two primary source documents from this less and complete Data Analysis Sheet.
  2. Complete the same exercise with the lesson on the 1950s (need hyperlink to the 1950s lesson).



Extension                                                                                    Back to Navigation Bar

Assign students to choose another decade of the 20th century, find primary source documents and create poster, booklet, PowerPoint or Prezi presentation that includes aspects of family life, transportation, technology/communication, fads/fashions and major events with at least one document and an explanation of why it was important to that time period.



Evaluation                                                                                                              Back to Navigation Bar



The rubric below may be used to…..





More Effort Needed


10 pts

8 pts

3 pts


Bulls Eye

Good Hit

Off the Target


10 pts

8 pts

3 pts


Great account of document. Used solid detail

Good account. Used some solid detail.

Ideas not developed; lacking sufficient detail to understand the thoughts behind the words


 10 pts

8 pts

3 pts


Great relation to inference.

Good relation to inference

Weak relation to inference


10 pts

8 pts



No errors. Use of complete sentences in answer.

A few errors. Use of complete sentences in answer.

A few errors. One fragment or incomplete sentence.


Appendix                                                                                     Back to Navigation Bar



Primary Source Analysis (doc)


1. Two Iowa City boys with their bicycles, circa 1929. Courtesy of Iowa State Historical Society, Iowa City.



1.     Charles Lindberg was the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. On May 20, 1927 at 7:52 a.m., Lindbergh flew from Long Island, New York to Paris. He packed five sandwiches, water, maps and charts, and a few other things he thought he might need. He did not take a parachute or radio; instead he took extra gasoline. He had problems with fog, icing and drowsiness (he hadn't been able to sleep the night before taking off) during the historic trip.