Ken Burns Classroom

Roosevelt Leadership

Ken Burns Film: The Roosevelts

Collections: Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

Subject: Government

Grade Level: 7-12

Run Time: 1 class period


All three Roosevelts displayed exceptional leadership skills, tested in very difficult times. Theodore was brilliant and independent, and saw himself as a defender of justice. Franklin was humbled by polio, which gave him a strong sense of empathy for others and a drive to help them. Eleanor possessed strong moral conviction and was a champion for social reform.


Would any of the three Roosevelts be good candidates for president of the United States today? Divide students into small “campaign committees” and assign each group one of the Roosevelts as a candidate. Each campaign committee should record general information on their personal life, education, political and professional experience, and key causes they believed in. The committees should identify the leadership qualities of their candidate and highlight their experiences. Then have them formulate a resume following a traditional resume format or one of your choosing. Students can use their video notes from the lessons in The Roosevelts series. If your class hasn’t conducted any of the lessons yet, students can watch selections from any of the episodes and take notes to gather facts. Students can also research information for questions from any number of Roosevelt websites found in the resource sections in the lessons.

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