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Lesson Plan Photographs from the Great Depression: The World of Jacob Have I Loved:

Images from the collection, Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives, provide visual images to introduce and spark curiosity about Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson, a novel about jealousy set on an island in the Chesapeake Bay in the early 1940s.


Students will be able to:

  • develop a visual image of the place described in words in their reading;
  • develop a visual image of the activities described in the book and in their further studies of the Chesapeake Bay;
  • develop a visual image of costume and appearance of the time.

Time Required

One class

Lesson Preparation


The following materials will be used in this lesson.


Lesson Procedure

Choose photographs from America From the Great Depression to World War II, 1935-1945. Cut each into several pieces. Have enough pieces for each student.

Give each student a piece of a photograph and tell him or her to find the other pieces of their photograph.

Students find group members who share portions of their photograph.

When the photo is complete, students exchange it for the whole photograph . Students analyze the photograph, recording their thoughts on the Primary Source Analysis Tool . Before the students begin, select questions from the teacher’s guide Analyzing Photographs and Prints to focus and prompt analysis and discussion..

Groups present their photos and their analysis.

Direct students to the Jacob Have I Loved gallery to analyze additional photographs.


  • Students see movie of Jacob Have I Loved (Wonderworks. 1989. 57 minutes) and compare the l980s movie and its costumes with the black and white pictures from the 1930s in the collection, reviewing the pictures as necessary.
  • Students work with photographs from American Memory in a similar fashion for another book, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor. See the Roll of Thunder Gallery

Lesson Evaluation

Evaluate student participation and reflection according to criteria specified or generated in conjunction with the class.


Kathy Isaacs, American Memory Fellow, 1999