LESSON NINE: DAILY LIFE
the day-to day lives of people who lived in the past gives us a better
understanding of our own lives.
How were the
lives of people in the 1940s different from modern times?
How do photographs help us understand the lives of people who lived in the past?
7.7 understand how individuals, events, and issues shaped the history
of Texas during the 20th century
7.12 (A) explain economic factors that led to the urbanization of Texas
7.12 (C) explain the changes in the types of jobs and occupations that have resulted
from the urbanization of Texas
7.20 (A) compare types and uses of technology, past and present
7.20 (F) make predictions about economic, social, and environmental consequences
that may result from future scientific discoveries and technological innovations
7.21 (A) differentiate between, locate, and use primary and secondary sources
such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews,
and artifacts to acquire information about Texas
7.21 (B) analyze information by sequencing, categorizing, identifying cause-and-effect
relationships, comparing, contrasting, finding the main idea, summarizing, making
generalizations and predictions, and drawing inferences and conclusions
- Overhead projector
- Students’ completed copies of Exploring Themes in The
Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas handout
- Students will identify ways that photography helps historians understand
the lives of people who lived in the past.
- Students will use images from Russell Lee’s photo essay The
Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas to compare and
contrast their own lives to the lives of Mexican-Americans in the
- Students will analyze how Texas’ change from an agrarian to
an urban society has impacted the lives of Texans.
Ask students to
describe a typical day of their lives. What activities are they
involved in? What groups do they belong to? What places
do they visit during their day? What people are the most important
in their lives? What technological devices do they use?
Explain to students:
With The Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas, Russell Lee
was not trying to capture a major event such as a war or a presidential election. Instead,
he took pictures of the daily lives of Mexican-Americans in Texas during the
Engage students in a discussion about photography’s ability to
document the daily lives of ordinary people, asking:
- In our lesson about the photo essay, we studied the subjects that
Russell Lee focused on in his photo essay. What aspects of ordinary
life did he focus on in his photo essay?
- Why do you think Russell Lee wanted to focus on people’s ordinary
lives rather than major events?
- Why do we study the daily lives of people who lived in the past?
- Why are photographs one of the best primary sources for studying
people’s lives? What can be captured in a photograph that
cannot be demonstrated in other primary sources?
- What other primary sources do historians use to study the daily lives
of people who lived in the past?
- If a photographer wanted to document your daily life, what should
he or she photograph?
- What similarities do you expect to find between your own life and
the lives of the people documented in The Study of the Spanish-Speaking
People of Texas?
- What differences do you expect to find?
Pass out students’ completed copies of Exploring Themes in The
Study of the Spanish-Speaking People of Texas handouts. Explain
to students that for each image chosen in the handout, they will identify
one similarity and one difference between the lives of the people in
the photographs and their own lives. When students have completed
the assignment, call the class together to discuss their findings. Ask
students to identify similarities and differences they found, and record
their findings on the overhead. Expand the discussion, asking
- Consider what is missing from the Russell Lee images. Did you
see cell phones, computers, or televisions in the pictures? Why
not? How does the technological change impact the way people
spend their leisure time?
- How would the absence of these technological devices change your
- In which of the subjects that Russell Lee documented does life seem
to have changed the least? Family life? Education? Why
do you think this aspect of daily life has not changed very much?
- In which of the photo essay’s subjects does life seem to have
changed the most? What do you think has caused this change?
- How do you think life was easier during the 1940s? How was
- What generalizations can you make about the way people’s occupations
have changed? How have jobs changed as Texas transitioned from
an agrarian to an urban economy?
Review with students how
the study of other time periods provides a better understanding their
Evaluate students’ expanded
answers to Exploring Themes in The Study of the Spanish-Speaking
People of Texas and essays.
Students photograph their daily lives and share images with the class.