Political Party History

Political Party History
Eleanor Roosevelt: Law, Politics and Govt

Skill: Middle School
Time Required:

Required Documents
Political Party Charts


Eleanor Roosevelt was a ground breaker for the role of First Ladies.  In July of 1940, she became the first president’s wife to speak at a political convention. The delegates at the Democratic Convention were angry over FDR’s selection for vice president, Henry A. Wallace, who was considered an “ultra-New Dealer.”  A member of the cabinet, Harry Ickles telegraphed the president to inform him that, “The convention is bleeding to death.  Your reputation and prestige may bleed to death.” To end the turmoil, President Roosevelt sent his wife, stating, “You know Eleanor always makes people feel right.  She has a fine way with her.”   The next day newspapers reported “MRS ROOSEVELT STILLS THE TUMULT OF 50,000.”*


In this lesson students will research the role of political parties in the history of the twentieth century of the United States.

Materials Required:

Access to the internet or access to a local public library


In the right hand column are links to charts of information regarding political parties in the twentieth century.  The first chart provides information about political parties and their presidential candidates.  The second chart highlights a few of the laws enacted under the direction of presidents during the twentieth century, as well as major events.   The third chart provides information regarding the political parties of the twentieth century and their beliefs.

1. Divide students into groups of four students each and divide the twenty-six presidential campaigns equally among the groups.

2. Notify students that they will be writing a “What might have been” history of the United States.

3. Distribute hard copies of the charts in the document section of this lesson plan. 

4. Notify students to further research the candidates assigned as well as the represented political parties through the internet or local library.

5. Have each group present their findings to the class.

Extending the Lesson:

To extend this lesson have the class create a timeline of political parties.

Sources & Resources:

Children’s Books:
   Granfield, Linda.  How Our President is Elected.  Towanda: Kids Can Press, 2003. 
Books for Teachers: 

* Boller, Paul F. Jr.  Presidential Wives.  (2nd edition).  New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. 
   Gunther, Richard.  Political Parties: Old Concepts and New Challenges.  New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 
   Michels, Robert.  Political Parties.  New York: Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, 1962. 
   Ware, Alan.  Political Parties and Party Systems.  New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. 




This lesson was written by Debra L. Clark, Kent State University.