Exploring FSA Photography & Photojournalism: Gee's Bend, Alabama

In this lesson, students will look at a series of photographs taken of Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Students will write a series of newspaper articles based on the images and the evolution of change at Gee’s Bend caused by Resettlement Administration involvement in the community. 

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.IKI.7
Evaluate the topic or subject in multiple diverse formats and media.
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.IKI.9
Analyze and evaluate a variety of thematically-related texts of historical and literary significance for their topics, facts, purposes, and rhetorical...
TSS.ELA.11-12.RI.KID.1
Analyze what a text says explicitly and draw inferences; support an interpretation of a text by citing and synthesizing relevant textual evidence from...
TSS.ELA.8.W.TTP.2
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of...
US.50
Analyze the effects of and the controversies arising from New Deal economic policies, including charges of socialism and FDR's "court packing" attempt.
 
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
 
Learning objectives: 

The learner will:

  • View a series of photographs of Gee’s Bend before Resettlement Administration involvement and write a newspaper article about the community
  • View a series of photographs of Gee’s Bend after Resettlement Administration involvement and write a newspaper article depicting progress in the community
Essential and guiding questions: 

How do photographs aid in getting public support for government programs? 

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Applying
Extension suggestions: 

Gee’s Bend is an interesting example of the transition from slavery to sharecropping after the Civil War. The chapter, Tenant Farmers (click on the link for page 146) discusses the history of the Pettway Plantation briefly. Print out copies of the interview transcriptions of Isom Moseley and Alice Gaston (These interviews are part of the Library of Congress collection, Voices from the Days of Slavery.) Allow the students to listen to the interviews of Isom Moseley and Alice Gaston and read along using the transcripts, or have students simply read the transcripts. Also, point out that Isom Moseley is the subject of one of the photographs used in the lesson plan. Have a class discussion on the content of the interviews. What was life like as a slave for Mosely and Gatson? How did the Civil War impact the plantation? Notice, that both Mosely and Gatson were asked, “What’s the government been doing for you?” Speculate why both were asked this question, and discuss their responses to it. For homework, have students write an essay from Mosely’s or Gatson’s point of view about life before and after R.A. involvement. Students should incorporate information from the chapter, Tenant Farmers, the photographs, and from class discussions into their essays. Students should also include the pros and cons of R.A. involvement in the community. 

Helpful Hints

MATERIALS:

  • Primary Source Analysis Tool
  • Teacher's Guide, Analyzing Photographs & Prints
  • Worksheet 1
  • Discussion Questions
  • Gee’s Bend, Alabama: A Look into the Community before Resettlement Administration Involvement PowerPoint (optional)
  • Gee’s Bend, Alabama: A Comparison of the Community Before and After Resettlement Administration Involvement (optional)
  • What can companion images tell us?