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Using Primary Sources in the Classroom:

World War II Lesson 1 - Political Cartoons

Background Information for Teachers

Once the United States entered the war, Alabamians fully supported the effort. They sent men and women off to serve and geared up the home front to support the troops by rationing, planting home gardens, and recycling needed war resources. Political cartoons of the day, like those of Frank Spangler, Sr. and his son Frank Spangler, Jr., reflected citizen concerns. Drawing for the Montgomery Advertiser from 1940 to 1974, the Spanglers' cartoons raised issues of local, national, and international importance in a simple, direct way. This lesson helps students understand that a political cartoon is very much like an editorial--both present personal opinions.

 

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  1. Define a political cartoon and its purposes.
  2. Analyze a political cartoon.
  3. Identify symbols in a political cartoon.
  4. Synthesize an editorial to support a political cartoon.
Suggested Activity
  1. Give a copy of a different political cartoon for each student. SAVE ONE CARTOON TO BE COPIED FOR ALL OF THE STUDENTS.
  2. Make overhead transparencies of each cartoon.
  3. Use the general suggestions for analyzing a political cartoon. Allow each student enough time to complete his/her analysis of his/her assigned cartoon.
  4. After the students have finished, place each cartoon on the overhead and allow the students to assist you in compiling a class analysis for each cartoon.
  5. Give the copy of the cartoon that you have saved to each of the students. Ask each student to write an editorial which supports the political cartoon. They must analyze the cartoon in order to write about the subject. However, remind students that the cartoon and the editorial will be placed side by side on the editorial page. They MUST NOT describe the cartoon in their editorial.
  6. For a bonus, ask the students to draw their own cartoon discussing an area of concern for them in their school or community.
Documents: Frank M. Spangler, Sr. World War II Cartoons
  • Document 1: Spangler, Frank M. Bearing Down. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 2, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Document 2: ________. The Big Coach. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 2, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Document 3: ________. Help Wanted. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 2, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Document 4: ________. Open House. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 6, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Document 5: ________. Scrap Evolution. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 10, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Document 6: ________. Bringing In The Sheep. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 6, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Document 7: ________. The Right Steps. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 6, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Document 8: ________. Speeding Up Time. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 2, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.
  • Document 9: ________. The Trenchmen. n.d. Frank M. Spangler Cartoons & Clippings, PB Range I, Section 4, Shelf e, Box 1, Folder 11, Alabama Department of Archives & History, Montgomery, Alabama.