The Power of Images in Shaping Ideas

The Power of Images in Shaping Ideas
Jackie Kennedy: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Skill: Middle School
Time Required: three to five class meetings


Prior to marrying Congressman John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Lee Bouvier worked as the “Inquiring Camera Girl” for the Washington-Times Herald newspaper.  Though some disagreement exists regarding how Jackie and John Kennedy actually met, most accounts suggest that it was her job as an inquiring photographer that led Jackie to Jack and her charm that persuaded Jack to pursue her.  Working for $42.50 per week, the future Mrs. Kennedy would walk around Washington D.C. and ask questions of prominent individuals, such as Congressmen Kennedy, and then take pictures of the individuals for a column she wrote that day. 


In this lesson, students will gain an appreciation for the role of photography in telling and shaping history. 

Materials Required:

Access to the Internet, a library and/or the following book:   Sullivan, Robert (ed.), Burrows, Barbara Baker (Photo Ed.). 100 Photos that Changed the World. Life, 2003.


First the teacher and class, if possible, should go to the following website:  or look through the book identified above.  This website provides 28 of the 100 pictures Life magazine has identified as changing the world; the book contains all 100 photos.   The following list contains the titles of the 28 photos on the website (The Cuban Missile Crisis is listed twice because two separate photos tied to this event were included):  

1.  Anne Frank (Holocaust)

2.  Dead American Soldiers WWII (World War II)

3.  Biafra 1969 (Famine)
4.  Birmingham 1963 (Civil Rights Movement)

5.  Nagasaki 1945 (World War II)

6.  Breaker Boys 1910 (Progressive Era and Child Labor)

7.  South of the DMZ 1966 (Vietnam)

8.  The Crimean War 1855

9.  Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

10. Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962

11. Michael Dukakis, 1988 (Media and Politics)

12. Earthrise, 1968 (Apollo Missions and the Moon)

13. Execution of Viet Cong Guerilla, 1968 (Vietnam)

14. Betty Grable, 1942 (World War II)

15. Johnson is Sworn In, 1963 (Assassination of President Kennedy)

16. Kent State, 1970 (Protest and Photojournalism)

17. Elizabeth Eckford, 1957 (Civil Rights Movement)

18. Clarence Hailey Long, 1949 (Commercialism)

19. Lynching, 1930 (Civil Rights Movement)

20. Migrant Mother, 1936 (The Great Depression)

21. Galloping Horse, 1878 (History of Photography)

22. Pigeon House and Barn, 1827 (History of Photography)

23. How Life Begins, 1965 (History of Photography)

24. Promontory Point, 1869 (Transcontinental Railroad)

25. Triangle Shirtwaist, Factory 1911 (Child Labor)

26. Tiananmen Square, 1989 (Protest and Photojournalism)

27.  Flight 1903 (History of Photography)

28.  First Human X-Ray 1896 (History of Photography)

While examining the photos, little commentary should be given or allowed.  When all photos have been examined, divide the photos evenly among students with each student having one or more photos. 

Once each student has been assigned a photo, explain to the students that they must do research on the photo they have been assigned and will report to the class the findings of their research.  If students have not previously engaged in research, the teacher should provide an explanation regarding finding sources on the Internet or in a library.  The teacher might also want to pair or group students with photos that are tied in some way together.   For example, “Galloping Horse,” “Pigeon House and Barn” are photos tied to the history of photography; “Lynching 1930,” “Elizabeth Eckford,1957” and “Birmingham 1963” are all connected with the Civil Rights Movement. 
In their oral presentations, students should put together a PowerPoint or poster presentation.  If other photos of the event researched are available, they should be provided in the presentation.  Students should also be advised that their presentations must include a discussion of the role the photo had in changing history. 

Extending the Lesson:

During the presentations, direct students to keep notes regarding similarities among the topics (i.e. Vietnam War and protest).  Upon the completion of all presentations, have the class design a schematic timeline on the board or poster paper.  The schematic timeline should be chronologically organized with symbols and/or lines and arrows connecting events.

Sources & Resources:


Sullivan, Robert (ed.), Burrows, Barbara Baker (Photo Ed.). 100 Photos that Changed the World. Life, 2003.  

Anne Frank: Enzer, Hyman A., Solotaoff-Enzer, Sandra (ed.). Anne Frank: Reflections on Her Life and Legacy.  Board of Trustees the University of Illinois, 2000.  

Holocaust: Dwork, Debra, Pelt, Robert Jan. Holocaust. New York:  W.W. Norton and Company, 2003.  

Americans in World War II: Keegan, John. World War II: A Visual Encyclopedia.  New York: Sterling Publishing Company, 1999.

Famine and War: Forsyth, Fredrick. The Biafra Story.  Penguin Books, 1969.  

Civil Rights Movement: Riches, William Terrence Martin.  The Civil Rights Movement: Struggle and Resistance, 2nd ed.  New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.  

Nagasaki: Goldstein, Donald M. Rain of Ruin: A Photographic History of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Dulles: Prange Enterprises, 1999.  

Child Labor Laws and the Progressive Movement: McGerr, Michael.  A Fierce Discontent: The Rise and Fall of The Progressive Movement in America, 1870-1920. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2003.  

Vietnam War: Dillon, Katherine V, Goldstein, Donald M., Wenger, J. Michael.  The Vietnam War: The Story and Photographs. Herndon: Brassey, Inc., 1999.  

The Crimean War: Sweetman, John. The Crimean War.  Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2001.  

Cuban Missile Crisis: Kennedy, Robert. Thirteen Days. New York:  W.W. Norton and Company, 2000.  

Media and Politics: Kuypers, Jim A.  Press Bias and Politics: How the Media Frame Controversial Issues. Westport: Praeger Publishers, 2002.  

Apollo Missions and the Moon: Lindsay, Hamish. Tracking Apollo to the Moon.  Springer, 2001.  

The Assassination of President Kennedy: The staff of the New York TimesFours Days in November:  The Original Coverage of the John F. Kennedy Assassination.  New York: The New York Times, 2003.  

Protest and Photojournalism: Morris, John G. Get the Picture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.  

Commercialism: Cross, Gary.  An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won America.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.  

The Great Depression: McElvaine, Robert S.  Down and Out in the Great Depression: Letters from the Forgotten Man. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1983.  

History of Photography: Goldberg, Vicki & Silberman, Robert. American Photography: A Century of Images.  San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1999.  

Transcontinental Railroad: Houghton, Gillian. The Transcontinental Railroad: A Primary Source History of America’s First Coast-to-Coast Railroad. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2003.  

Flight: Berliner, Don. Aviation: Reaching for the Sky. Minneapolis: The Oliver Press, 1997.  


Anne Frank:


America’s World War II:


Civil Rights Movement:


Child Labor Laws and the Progressive Movement:

Vietnam War:

The Crimean War:

Cuban Missile Crisis:  

Media and Politics:

Apollo Missions and the Moon:

The Assasination of President Kennedy:

Protest and Photojournalism:


The Great Depression:

History of Photography:

Transcontinental Railroad:  



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