First Ladies as Activists

First Ladies as Activists
Florence Harding: First Ladies' Lives

Skill: High School/College
Time Required: One to two class periods


Many First Ladies have adopted specific causes to which they have given their names, their time, their energies, and often their money.  Flo Harding was no exception.  She was a tireless advocate for American veterans.


The purpose of this lesson is for students to view First Ladies as women who use their status for societal good.  This lesson will also acquaint students with the recurring nature of social concerns through the 20th century.    

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet Access to print reference materials Llong sheet of paper for construction of class’s timeline


1.  Have each student adopt a First Lady of the 20th century. 

2.  Using print and web resources, students should be able to identify the cause to which the First Lady lent her name.  If there are no causes listed, have students consult their textbooks and identify a cause that would have been appropriate. 

3.  Using their knowledge of American and World History, have students write a press release identifying the cause, the First Lady’s involvement/actions, and explaining the necessity of the cause within the context of that period’s history. 

4.  Using the long sheet of paper, have students locate their First Lady on the timeline and note her cause.  The timeline should already be divided into four year “administration” blocks with major events noted.

Extending the Lesson:

The teacher may want students to use artistic means to convey the cause and actions identified with each First Lady. 
After the causes are located in proper order, compare them with the events of the nation and the world.  Does the timeline of causes tell our nation’s story?

Sources & Resources:



This lesson was designed by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.