Lesson Plan: Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms

Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms

President Franklin D. Roosevelt presents the "Four Freedoms" in his 1941 State of the Union Address. George Washington University Museum Director and Art Historian John Wetenhall explains the significance of Norman Rockwell's paintings that reflect FDR's ideals.

Description

In his 1941 State of the Union address, President Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined what became known as the "Four Freedoms" - freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. To represent these ideals, Norman Rockwell created paintings which became highly successful promotional posters for World War II war bonds. George Washington University Museum Director and Art Historian John Wetenhall discusses these paintings.

Procedures

  • INTRODUCTION:

    As a class, view the video clip below and have students take notes on the accompanying handout. Ask them to respond to the related questions. Engage in class discussion to provide background information on the Four Freedoms FDR presented during his 1941 State of the Union speech and the relevance of these ideals in today's society.

    Handout: Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms (Google Doc)

    Video Clip 1: Rockwell, Roosevelt, and the Four Freedoms (2:31)

    FDR presents the "Four Freedoms" in his 1941 State of the Union Address. John Wetenhall explains the significance of Norman Rockwell's paintings that reflect these ideals.

    1. Explain the significance of Norman Rockwell's images.

    2. What were the "Four Freedoms" that President Franklin D. Roosevelt outlined in his State of the Union Address in 1941?

    3. According to John Wetenhall, what impact did these images have on the nation?
  • EXPLORATION

    Using either the Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms Note-taking Handout or the questions associated with the video below, have students view the clip individually or in a jigsaw activity to learn about Norman Rockwell's representations of FDR's Four Freedoms in his paintings. Discuss students' observations and responses to the related questions after viewing the clip.

    Video Clip 2: Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms Paintings (6:37)

    John Wetenhall describes Norman Rockwell's portrayals of FDR's Four Freedoms.

    1. How did leadership at the United States Office of War Information react to Norman Rockwell's paintings of the Four Freedoms?

    2. What was the response to Norman Rockwell's images when he visited his editors at The Saturday Evening Post in Philadelphia, PA?

    3. Describe the concept of freedom of speech in Rockwell's first painting.

    4. How did he portray freedom of religion?

    5. Explain his depiction of freedom from want.

    6. How was freedom from fear illustrated?
  • CONCLUSION

    Have students view the following video to learn how Rockwell's images were disseminated across the United States and the impact they had on the American people and the country.

    Video Clip 3: The Four Freedoms: WWII Bonds and Norman Rockwell Paintings (4:43)

    John Wetenhall explains how Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms paintings became highly successful promotional posters for World War II war bonds.

    1. How did Americans learn about Rockwell's Four Freedoms?

    2. Explain Will Durant's concept of Rockwell's Freedom of Worship painting in the essay that John Wetenhall highlights.

    3. Explain the connection between Rockwell's paintings and the War Bond Drive of 1943.
  • ACTIVITY:

    Ask students to consider FDR's Four Freedoms and Norman Rockwell's paintings in today's society as they complete the below activity.

    HANDOUT: Four Freedoms Activity (Google Doc)

    How would you illustrate these concepts? Use the accompanying handout to sketch your own designs that reflect these ideals.

    Alternatively, you can use a social media platform to create an image, ad or moment that reflects your personal concepts of these ideas.

Additional Resource

  • Lesson Plan: Funding World War II Through Taxes and Bonds

    In his State of the Union speech in 1942, FDR laid out methods the country could employ to help the United States pay for WWII. From collecting taxes to purchasing bonds and making sacrifices, the government encouraged people to contribute to the government

Vocabulary

  • Abstract
  • Articulate
  • Circulate
  • Concept
  • Dissemination
  • Ideological
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Poignant
  • President Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • Sparse
  • State Of The Union Address
  • Still Life
  • The Blitz
  • The Saturday Evening Post

Topics

Civil Rights & Civil LibertiesU.S. HistoryWorld History

Grades

High SchoolUniversity