The Rockefeller Archive Center
“If we assist the highest forms of education – in whatever field – we secure the widest influence in enlarging the boundaries of human knowledge.”
—John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Lesson Plans
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In 2006, the Rockefeller Archive Center sponsored an experimental Summer Institute for Teachers.  Dr. Dennis J. Maika coordinated the program, which afforded social studies teachers from Fox Lane High School in Bedford, New York, the opportunity to conduct research for a week in the collections at the Archive Center in order to prepare lesson plans based on their original research with primary documents.  The program received generous support from the Bedford Central School District and Dr. Ken Mitchell, former Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.   

In 2010 the Archive Center began a new Teaching Fellows Program. With the assistance of Dr. Maika, two Teaching Fellows, Michelle Tobias and Bob Mittelstadt, spent several days exploring the Center's collections and selected materials for use in their classrooms. The program continued in June 2011 with five teachers whose week of archival work yielded new lesson plans on topics ranging from global health to oil monopolies and New York city history. The 2012 program focused on "Philanthropy in the 20th Century."

The lesson plans that resulted from their research are presented here.  They represent the work and ideas of the individual teachers under whose names they appear. 


These lessons focus on various themes in American history, including race and gender; the presentation of news in the mass media; the uses of history in wartime; adolescent maturation; shared emotions and experiences across class and time; education and institution-building; racial discrimination and segregation in the pre-civil rights South; labor history; economic history; late 19th century controversies; philanthropy.  All lesson plans contain the following:

1. Brief Introduction or Rationale
2. Course Level and New York State Curriculum Connection
3. The Lesson
            -- Essential Questions
            -- Student Objectives
4. Schedule and Procedure
5. Source Materials and Student Handouts


2006 Summer Institute for Teachers:

Race, Gender and Education in the Jim Crow South,” by Mary Palazzo Harrison

Understanding Mass Media News – The 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast and the Power of Radio in the 1930s,” by Dennis J. Maika

The Power of History: The Use of Colonial History to Support Efforts on the U.S. Home Front during World War II (1942-1943),” by Mark S. Nemecek

Do Young Adults Share Similar Experiences Regardless of Their Social and Economic Status? An Affective Approach to Understanding the Adolescent Maturation Process Using Personal Documents from a Young John D. Rockefeller, Jr.,” by Michael Poplardo

The Rockefeller Family and Their Impact on African American Education in the Jim Crow South,” by Christopher Violante

2010 Teaching Fellows Program:

The Power of the Political Cartoon,” by Bob Mittelstadt

He Said, She Said: A Historical Boxing Match Between Ida Tarbell and John D. Rockefeller,” by Michelle Tobias

2011 Teaching Fellows Program:

Dealing with Epidemics and Infectious Disease: The Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican Hookworm Epidemic of the 1920s,” by David M. Chepiga

The Difficult Art of Giving,” by Daphne Kohavy

Oil Tycoon,” by Tim Kuklis

Rockefeller's New York - A Tour of the Rockefeller's New York City,” by Marc Latasa

Case Study: Understanding Historical Actors with a focus on John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Ludlow Massacre,” by Lili Van Zanten

The Rockefeller's Social Responsibility,” by Kara-Ann Miller

2012 Teaching Fellows Program:

The Role of Philanthropists in Public Health. "Unhooking the Hookworm" Case Study: The Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the eradication of hookworm in the American South,” by Jessica Agovino

The Mexican Agricultural Plan: The Origins of the Green Revolution - A Method of "Containment" During the Cold War?,” by Loni Leiva-Rich

Washington Irving's Sunnyside During the Early Cold War; American Identity and World Leadership As Expressed in John D. Rockefeller Jr.'s Dedication Speech of October 4, 1947,” by Dr. Erik Weiselberg


Comments on these lesson plans are welcome.  Please address your comments to the Rockefeller Archive Center at with “Lesson Plan” followed by the teacher’s last name in the subject line of your email.   The Archive Center will direct comments and suggestions to the appropriate teacher. 

The documents and photographs from the collections of the Rockefeller Archive Center are used by permission.  These and other documents and photographs in these lesson plans are presented here solely for research and educational purposes and cannot be used for other purposes without the permission of the holders of copyright.

The ideas, opinions and conclusions expressed in these lesson plans are those of the individual researchers and are not intended to represent the Rockefeller Archive Center.

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