With Art & Industry: 1890-1920

Teachers Level Three

Learning Goals and Objectives--Grades 9 - 12

Voices and Choices--William Dellert
Note: It is a good idea to print Level Three for easy reference.

Voices and Choices

William Dellert and his wife Vera own a plot of land in Springfield. They have decided to purchase a house kit from the Sears catalog. They must decide which style of home they like best.


These themes can be explored with either a social studies or language arts curriculum. Use these themes to tie in other resources to your class discussion, i.e., other books, other cultures, students' own lives.


What do you think?

These questions, which come at the end of each story (minus "the answer"), can be used to start class discussions or be assigned as homework.

William Dellert and his wife Vera are ready to own their first home. Describe how they are going to select their house. Where will they put this house?

They are going to order their home from the Sears and Roebuck catalog. It will arrive disassembled, as raw materials, and William will build this home on a piece of land they have bought in the city of Springfield.

If you wanted to buy a home today, outline the steps you would take. How does your plan differ from the Dellerts' plan? What might be several alternative ways to obtain your home?

There are a variety of ways to buy a home today. Encourage students to consider everything from buying a trailer home to hiring an architect and contractor to build the home of their dreams. Students who are not familiar with the rudiments of buying a home may want to interview their parents or call a local real-estate agent for an interview about the steps one takes purchasing a home.

What are today's equivalents to the home kits of the 1920s?

Today's equivalents might include trailer homes, prefab houses, and model homes built as units for housing developments.

What impact do you think mail-order catalogs had on isolated rural communities?

Mail-order catalogs linked rural communities to a nationally shared marketplace. Via mail-order catalogs, rural families could participate in the latest purchasing-styles and trends. No longer did they have to feel deprived of the consumer products that were available to their urban counterparts.

Do you or your family receive mail-order catalogs? Have you ever purchased something from one of these catalogs? What did you buy? Make a list of the pros and the cons of purchasing from a catalog.

Mail-order catalogs have seen a resurgence in popularity over the past decade as a way for consumers to save time shopping. Ask your students to consider their buying habits and, if they buy from catalogs, the pros and cons of mail-order.



These are suggested classroom activities and student projects that you may want to use with your students or as models to create your own.

1. Comparing Catalogs Across Time

Catalogs are a valuable source of information for the historian. They can tell us about: Based on the above criteria, compare an object from the early 1900s with a similar object found in catalogs today.

Discuss the similarities and differences between the objects. What has changed and what hasn't changed? How is language used differently in the object descriptions? What images seemed to appeal to the consumer of the early 1900s, and what seems to appeal to today's consumer?

As a class, put your information together and see if you can describe the consumer of the early 1900s vs. the consumer of the the 1990s. How do you think changes in technology have contributed to consumer needs and desires?

2. New Technologies for the Home

By 1920 people were stressing comfort, function, and economy in equipping their homes. For those who could afford them, new inventions such as electricity, indoor plumbing, and central heating helped meet these ends.

Find out more about new technologies for the home in the areas of:

3. Reporting on the Modern Home of Today

What are some of the new technologies for today's home? How have the new technologies of the 1920s been improved? Answer these questions in a written report on the most modern home that money can buy today.

Think about: You might want to look at the website Remote Link WorkSpace Resources - Furniture for the Electronic Age


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