Holiday celebrations often include music, conversation and storytelling. The American Memory collections contain numerous audio files that provide clues to the traditions, ideas, language, speaking style, vocabulary, accents, and dialects of generations past. Exposure to America's songs, sounds, and oral histories will enhance students' understanding of written and visual documents. Learning to listen carefully provides another means for understanding the past. Begin by listening to this patriotic speech given by Mrs. Corinne Roosevelt in support of the Republican ticket of Harding and Coolidge in the 1920 election.
• Observe: "Observing" an audio file means listening carefully. Create a quiet environment. Set the scene for the students. For an initial listening experience, provide them with background information. Let them know whose voices they will hear and the date and place of the recording. Explain that Corinne Roosevelt was Theodore's sister and that she was making a speech in support of the Republican ticket of Senator Harding and Governor Coolidge. Have students listen to the recording. What political party was she supporting and why? What specific reasons did she give for supporting these two candidates? Ask students to jot down unfamiliar words. If students have difficulty understanding the dialogue, play the recording again.
• Think: After completing the listening and note-taking process, conduct a class discussion. Ask students to consider why Corinne Roosevelt made this speech? In what historical context was this speech delivered? To whom was she directing her speech? Did mention of her brother, Theodore Roosevelt, have an impact on her words? Could the students understand the speech or did they have difficulty with the vocabulary? What do they know about the setting of the interview? Did listening to the voices help create a visual picture of the speaker and setting? Does this speech relate in any way to the students' own lives?
• Ask: After listening to and discussing the speech, do students still have questions? What resources could help them learn more? Are there related audio files in the American Memory collections? Can they locate photographs that would help them visualize the candidates? What was the outcome of the 1920 presidential election? Did history prove Corinne Roosevelt's support of the Republican party and it's candidates to be a successful choice?
Effective listening is an art. With frequent practice, students can develop this important life skill. Explore the interviews, sound files, music, and speeches that are can be found in the American Memory collections. Link to the sample selections on the left side of this page, or search for more sound files on your own. Select "sound recordings" from the "Limit Search to:" box on the right side of the search page.