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Student Activities

  • 1.

    Who created the pamphlet, “What’s in a Number”?

  • 2.

    For whom (what people or groups) was it created?

  • 3.

    According to the pamphlet, what groups will benefit from the new Social Security


4. Judging by the pamphlet, in what ways is Social Security similar to other New Deal–era programs that you may have studied? In what ways is it different?

5. What assumptions does this source make about workers? [teachers: we’re trying to get at the gender issues here: “At 65, John & his wife may make claims… If John dies, his widow and orphans file claims” i.e., workers are assumed to be male breadwinners]

6. Panel 8 notes, “Checks will come as a matter of right. He and his employer paid for them.” What is the implication here? [i.e., Social Security was earned, not charity]

7. Why might this source’s creator have used a comic book format with both words and pictures, instead of a printonly medium? What advantages does this graphical format have over more traditional, textonly government documents?

8. Read any three of the short chapters in “Reminiscences of Depression Days.” What conditions did the authors share, or what common experiences did they encounter? Should the government step in to help people facing such situations, or is it our own individual responsibility to solve these kinds of problems? Take a stand, and explain your reasons.

9. Read Frances Perkins memoir of being the person charged with trying to solve massive social problems. She was the first woman to serve in the cabinet of any U.S. president. What can you deduce about her character from the way she describes her work in the 1930s? Make a list of personality traits that are revealed or silently implied by her memoir.

10. The elderly people in Kenosha and Frances Perkins both left short memoirs of the Depression. What things are the same, and what different, about their memoirs?

8th Grade Standards Addressed:

8.1, 8.5 12th Grade Standards Addressed: 12.2, 12.5, 12.13


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