No Joke: The Value Of Political Cartoons (MS)

Grade Level Middle School
Location United States
Time Period 1700-1799, 1800-1899, 1900-1999
Topic American Revolution, Civics and Government, Civil War, Learning with Maps


Cartoons are highly effective ways to convey an opinion. In some cases, they become part of our language. With an expanding electorate, often they were deployed to sway voters through emotional appeal. But one thing is certain—they were rarely something to joke about. In this lesson, show your students a variety of political cartoons to generate a conversation about the ways in which people have been influenced by these visual images. Each example has a complex historic background that you may explore as much as you like, but use these images as a means to introduce the topic and issues they raise. It can serve as a way to supplement your regular curriculum materials. You may also do the different parts of the lesson at separate times.

Norman B. Leventhal Map Center (