Lesson Plans Wilson, Edith


Wilson, Edith
What Does It Mean to Give Your Time?
   Soon after Woodrow Wilson’s re-election in 1916, the U.S. entered World War I.  First Lady Edith Wilson decided to set an example for others in the nation to follow in supporting the troops in the war.  She volunteered with a Red Cross unit at the White House, asking for clothing and supplies.  One of the acts that she is most well known for is bringing a flock of sheep to the White House lawn and allowing them to graze there.  This saved money by providing a natural ‘lawnmower’ rather than hiring men to complete the task, as well as making a large sum of money by auctioning off the wool from the sheep.  The sales brought over $50,000 toward the war effort (Gould, 1996, p. 361).
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Law, Politics and Govt

Wilson, Edith
Baa! Baa! Sheep on the White House Lawn
   During World Wars I and II, there were many programs whose purpose was to raise money or resources for the war effort.  During World War I, Edith Wilson kept sheep on the White House lawn to help both the production of wool and the conservation of manpower.  She experienced World War II and was involved in that war's efforts as well.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: First Ladies' Lives

Wilson, Edith
Saluting Babe Ruth, the Bambino
One of the great heroes of baseball, Babe Ruth, was a big part of President Wilson's favorite sport while he was in the White House.  Indeed, the Babe's home run records stood for 39 years, and he is still considered one of baseball's greats.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Sports and Popular Culture

Wilson, Edith
Will the Real Pocahontas Please Stand Up?
Since Edith Wilson traced her ancestry back to the Indian princess, Pocahontas, this is a good time to look at the story of Pocahontas, which is sometimes disputed, and certainly portrayed differently by different authors and artists.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Wilson, Edith
Presidential Illness: Constitutional Crisis?
   While Edith Wilson was First Lady, her husband, President Woodrow Wilson, suffered a stroke.  Without the medical knowledge we have today, the full effects of the stroke took their toll, and the President was unable to fulfill his duty for many months during his presidency.  Mrs. Wilson became the "go-between" between her husband and the outside world, including his major advisors and the Congress.  This gave rise to much criticism, and also to questions about who should "take over" if a President is too ill or injured to fulfill his duties.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Law, Politics and Govt

Wilson, Edith
What's Your Stone? Gemstones and Their Stories
Gemology, the scientific study of gemstones, is a fascinating field of earth science.  Edith Wilson inherited a jewelry store from her husband and ran it successfully for many years.  She was certainly familiar with the association of particular stones with months of the year.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Education, Arts, Letters and Ideas

Wilson, Edith
Winning the Triple Crown: How Hard is THAT?
The first winner of the Triple Crown of horseracing, Sir Barton, won the title in 1919, during Woodrow Wilson's last term in office as President.  It must have been an exciting event, coming so soon after the end of the Great War (World War I), and was the  beginning of a series of races that captures the attention of Americans yet today.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Sports and Popular Culture

Wilson, Edith
A Church for the United States: The National Cathedral
   Intended for national purposes, such as public prayer, thanksgiving, funeral orations, etc., and assigned to the special use of no particular Sect or denomination, but equally open to all, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. is the burial site for Woodrow Wilson, the only U.S. President to be buried there.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Wilson, Edith
Forming a League of Nations
   During World War I, which was a particuarly brutal war, Woodrow Wilson and other statesmen in Europe developed the idea for some kind of international body that could help preserve the peace once the war was over.  After the war, Wilson proposed, as part of the peace treaty (the Treaty of Versailles), that a League of Nations be established.  The United States refused to ratify the treaty, and thus, the League.  Hoping to rally the nation in his cause, Woodrow and Edith Wilson brought the idea to the people, traveling across the United States by train.  The Wilsons were ultimately unsuccessful, and the country had to wait a quarter of a century for the United Nations to be born.
Skill: High School/College     Category: Law, Politics and Govt

Wilson, Edith
Break the Code!
   The story of codes and code breakers is a fascinating chapter in World War II.  However, codes have been used since earliest times.  Edith Wilson was taught the codes of World War I by her husband Woodrow.  And the story of the cracking of the code used in the Zimmerman telegram and its aftermath is one of the major intelligence events of World War I.
Skill: High School/College     Category: First Ladies' Lives

Wilson, Edith
Gibson Girls and Flappers: What is this "New Woman"?
In many ways, Edith Wilson was a good example of a "new woman"--one who was independent, knew her own mind, had confidence in herself, and was able to take on considerable challenges.  These characteristics were, however, also the basis of a good deal of criticism, because the idea of independent women was relatively new at the time.  The Victorian era, when "proper" women were thought to be subservient to men, was just ending, and the "new" era was just beginning.
Skill: High School/College     Category: Sports and Popular Culture

Wilson, Edith
A Settlement House Hall of Fame
As First Lady, Edith Wilson was very much involved in progressive works and causes.  One very important set of institutions that emerged during the Progressive Era was the Settlement House, a movement that attempted, with some success, to provide beacons of hope in the congested, dirty, and often poverty-stricken neighborhoods of America's large cities. 
Skill: High School/College     Category: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

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