High Level Document Based Question

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High Level Document Based Question - This DBQ adheres to New York State Learning Standard 1- History of the United States and New York, Commencement Level, Key Ideas #4. Additionally, this lesson plan corresponds with the National Social Studies Curriculum Standards thematic strand of power, authority, and governance.
This Great Depression Document Based Question (DBQ) may be used in the classroom in various ways. First, students may build their own DBQ scaffolding questions in pairs, as a group, or on their own in class using the Great Depression images as resources. Second, the teacher may decide to select specific Great Depression images to include as scaffolding questions. Finally, Great Depression images can be selected either by the teacher or the students and included with the following primary sources to form a comprehensive DBQ assignment. However, at least four Great Depression images must be used as scaffolding documents.

This Document Based Question (DBQ) consists of two parts. Part A includes scaffolding questions for each primary source. Answer each scaffolding question in the space provided. Part B is the DBQ. Write an essay that fully answers the DBQ.

Historical Context:

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s policies of relief, recovery, and reform altered the American nation and the reach of the American government. Although America fought its way out of the Great Depression under his Presidency, FDR has inspired both praise and hatred. His legacy is still debated today.

Document Based Question:

Identify who supported and who argued against FDR’s New Deal. Why are there such different views on this President and his policies?


Answer each scaffolding question in the space provided based on the corresponding primary source. Answer the DBQ using information from at least five of the primary sources in Part A and your knowledge of United States history.


-Support your essay with specific facts and details

-Write in an organized and logical manner

-Include a clearly developed introduction and conclusion

-Include information from at least five of the documents in Part A

Part A:

Document 1

We were so completely uninformed about the workings of charitable organizations that we all thought all we need do was to make clear to the authorities our grave situation in order to receive immediate attention. My husband came home with an application blank in his pocket. We filled out the application with great care. The next morning my husband started early for the bureau. He returned at about two o’clock, very hungry and weak from the heat. But he was encouraged.

“Well. I got to talk to somebody this time.” he said. “She asked me over again all the questions on that paper and more besides. Then she said to go home and wait. An investigator should be around tomorrow or day after. On account of your condition she marked the paper urgent.”

The next day we waited, and all of the two days more. The fourth day, which was Saturday, my husband went back to the bureau. It was closed until Monday.

On Sunday morning the Italian grocer reminded me of our bill. “It’s get too big.” he said. We cut down to one meal a day, and toast.

Monday brought no investigator. Tuesday my husband was at the bureau again. This time he came home hungry.

“They said the investigator was here Friday and we were out. I got sore and told them somebody was lying.”

“But you shouldn’t. Now they won’t help us.”

Ann Rivington

What If Our Check Does Not Come?”
Oral History
Scaffolding Question:

What obstacles does this family face? What government aid are they eligible for?

Document 2

“And, in the first place, some executives procrastinated in signing agreement with these codes, while others put them off completely. Had the codes been enacted more quickly and with more emphasis, these minor liabilities may not have been such a problem, but this was not the case. The NRA proved a failure in sponsoring the socialist ideal of a government-business cooperation and possible recovery, until the Supreme Court deemed it unconstitutional this year.”

New York News



Scaffolding Question:

What ideal does the author liken to the NRA to?

Document 3

“My Papa likes Mr. Roosevelt, and Mother said Mr. Roosevelt carries his worries with a smile – you know he is always happy. You know we are not living on relief – we live on a little farm. Papa did have a job and got lad [off] five years ago, so we saved and go two horses and two cows and a hog so we can . . .[have] everything to eat. Sometimes we don’t have anything but we live. But you know it [is] so hard to get cloth. So I thought maybe you had some. You now what you thought was no good Mother can make over for me. I am eleven years old. I wish I could see you. I know I would like you both . . .

We have no car or no phone or radio. Papa, he would like to have a radio but he said there [are] other things he needs more. Papa is worried about his seeds oats. And one horse is not very good. But everyone has to worry. I am sending this letter with the pennies I get to take to Sunday school. Mother gives me one [each week], so it took three weeks – ‘cause Mother would think I better not ask for things from the First Lady. But Mother said you were an angel for doing so much for the poor. And I thought that [it] would be alright . . .”

Child’s letter to Mrs. Roosevelt


Scaffolding Question:

Why is this child writing to Mrs. Roosevelt? Why do her parents admire the Roosevelts?

Document 4

“The income of American families decreased by more than half from 1929 to 1932. President Herbert Hoover, who blamed the Great Depression on international economic problems, advocated a policy of “rugged individualism” and opposed government intervention to restore economy. But when Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president in 1933, he instituted government programs to combat the Great Depression as part of his New Deal. When I went to college I studied sociology. I was taught that hunger, squalor, dirt, and ignorance are the results of environment. Charity, therefore, is no solution. We must change the environment. In order to do this we have settlement houses, playgrounds, and social workers in the slums. In the past year and a half I have again revised my opinion. I am no longer one of us. For all my education, my training in thrift, and cleanliness, I am become one of them. My condition is shared by a larger sector of the population. From my new place in society I regard the problems and misery of the poor with new eyes.”

Ann Rivington

What If Our Check Does Not Come?”
From: Living in Relief

Scaffolding Question:

What comparison is made between Hoover and Roosevelt? What does the author mean by she states “I have become one of them”?

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