Ken Burns Classroom

The Lives and Legacy of the Roosevelts

Ken Burns Film: The Roosevelts

Collections: Emergence of Modern America (1890-1930)

Subject: Government

Grade Level: 7-12

Run Time: 1 class period


The lives and legacy of the Roosevelts span over 100 years of American history, encompassing partisan politics and reform, isolation and global responsibility, government intervention and possible overreach, and social, political, and economic transformation.


Have students examine old newspaper archives or provide them with articles about the three Roosevelts during major events in their lives. A good source for these is the Library of Congress’s “Chronicling America” ( Arrange the class into small editorial groups to discuss what highlights will be included in a special section on the “Life and Times of Theodore, Franklin, or Eleanor Roosevelt.” Have students work in small groups to formulate small tributes to one of the Roosevelts, describing their personal lives, obstacles they overcame, successes, and shortcomings. Include photos of each Roosevelt related to the events reported on.

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