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The Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas
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A Photo Essay by Russell Lee
Lesson 1
Who Is Russell Lee?

Enduring Understandings:

  • Images have power and influence in people’s lives.
  • Some people use art to express their thoughts and feelings about the social condition.

Essential Questions:

  • How do historians use images to understand the past?
  • In what ways has art been used to make statements about social conditions?


11.10 (B) analyze the effects of changing demographic patterns resulting from immigration to the United States

11.2 (C) analyze social issues, such as the treatment of minorities, child labor, growth of cities, and problems of immigrants

11. 14 (D) identify actions of government and the private sector to expand economic opportunities to all citizens

11.17 (A) analyze the effects of 20th-century landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions, such as Brown v. Board of Education, Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, and Reynolds v. Sims

11.21 (B) explain efforts of the Americanization movement to assimilate immigrants into American culture

11.24 (C) explain and apply different methods that historians use to interpret the past, including the use of primary and secondary sources, points of view, frames of reference, and historical context

11.24 (F) identify bias in written, oral, and visual material

11.24 (G) support a point of view on a social studies issue or event



  1. Access to Web site: Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas at which consists of photographs by Russell Lee and includes a biography of him (, as well as information about why he was chosen as the photographer for this project (
  2. Comprehension Questions about Russell Lee
    1. Handout: Russell Lee Biography
    2. Comprehension Questions about Russell Lee


The students will:

  1. Read a short biography of Russell Lee.
  2. Demonstrate comprehension of Russell Lee biography.

Anticipatory Set (Attention Getter):

The teacher will:

Direct the students’ attention to the picture of Russell Lee at the top of the handout and say, “This is Russell Lee, a photojournalist. We will be studying about his contributions to the world of documentary photography."


The teacher will:

A. Introduce the lesson by explaining:

Russell Lee was famous for his documentary style of photography. In this lesson you will learn about his life and his contributions to photojournalism.


The teacher will:

A. Provide copies of the Russell Lee biography.

The students will individually or in pairs:

A. Read the biography of Russell Lee.


The teacher will:

Ask the students to summarize the important facts of Lee’s life.


The students will:

Using the Lee biography, create a timeline of the events of Lee’s life. Using information from their history books, the students will add to the timeline the significant events that were happening in American history during Lee’s life. Examples are World War I, the Roaring 20s, the Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression, World War II, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, etc.


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