Teaching With Documents, Volume 2

Contents:

A Cartoonist’s View of the Eisenhower Years

Dwight D. Eisenhower was born in Denison, TX, on October 14, 1890. In 1990, the centennial of his birth, the evaluations of his contributions as citizen-soldier and President continue. It is fair to say that Eisenhower dominated the 1950s as no other public figure did and that he was able to do so largely because of his personal popularity. In elections and polls, the people of the United States consistently expressed their approval of "Ike’s" appealing public style. Eisenhower’s fondness for golf and family gatherings, his low-key personality, his unpretentious manner, and particularly his engaging grin made him everyone’s "grandfather."

There were, of course, detractors. Eisenhower’s quiet demeanor, dull oratory, and reliance upon experts who joined him in using bureaucratic jargon sometimes led observers to snipe at him. Contemporary political writers described his administration as "the bland leading the bland," and then-anonymous Oliver Jensen altered the Gettysburg Address to reflect what he regarded as Eisenhower’s overly cautious manner of speaking. That version began:

I haven’t checked these figures, but 87 years ago, I think it was, a number of individuals organized a governmental set up here in this country, I believe it covered certain eastern areas, with this idea they were following up, based on a sort of national-independence arrangement and the program that every individual is as good as every other individual.

As Eisenhower’s second term drew to an end in January 1961, cartoonist Charles Nickerson of the Deseret News drew "Images of the Fifties from Disneyland to Suez." By placing three larger-scale sketches of Eisenhower in different sections of the cartoon, and presenting him in varying roles from statesman to golfer, Nickerson visually expressed how the benign "Ike" permeated the life of his decade. The original artwork for this cartoon is located in the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, KS.

TEACHING ACTIVITIES

Pretest

1. Introduce the document as a pretest for a unit on the 1950s. Make a transparency of the cartoon, show it to the class, and color in the images as the students correctly identify them.

Oral History Interview

2. Duplicate and distribute a copy of the cartoon to each student. Instruct the students to take the cartoon home and work with their parents or other adults in their neighborhood who recall the 1950s to identify all the images in the cartoon and make a list of them.

Spelling

3. As a spelling exercise, ask the students to design a word puzzle using as many of the names of the personalities, events, and locations depicted in the cartoon as possible.

Research and Synthesis

4. With the class, list on the chalkboard the images included in the cartoon. Assign a different topic for research to each student. Ask students to gather information on their topics, using material available in the textbook, the school library and media center, and the local library and archives, and to convey their findings either in a descriptive paragraph, a drawing, a dialogue, a skit, or a cartoon. Post the results on the bulletin board along with a copy of the cartoon.


Click the image to view a larger version

Evaluation

5. As a posttest of your unit on the 1950s, ask students to look at the cartoon and then complete the following directions:

a. Review the list of images found in the cartoon.

b. Indicate which of the objects are symbols.

c. Identify the meaning of each symbol.

d. Describe the emotions conveyed by the symbols.

e. Design a category system for the list of images and group the items in a category chart.

Cartoon Answers

1. Alaskan Statehood
2. Dwight D. Eisenhower
3. Television Westerns
4. Explorer 1
5. Fidel Castro
6. Sir Edmund Hillary on Mt. Everest
7. Hawaiian Statehood
8. Volkswagen
9. Hungarian Revolution
10. Salk Polio Vaccination
11. Sea Hunt
12. Dwight D. Eisenhower
13. Finned Automobiles
14. Adlai Stevenson, Jr.
15. Gamal Abdel Nasser and the Suez Canal
16. Senator Joseph McCarthy
17. Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation
18. Dwight D. Eisenhower
19. Disneyland
20. Nikita Khrushchev’s De-Stalinization Program
21. Richard M. Nixon
22. International Geophysical Year
23 . African Revolutions
24. Sputnik and Satellites
25. Marilyn Monroe
26. Elvis Presley

Note: Alaska was the 49th state rather than the 50th (which was Hawaii), as the cartoon mistakenly labels it.

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Chicago: "A Cartoonist’s View of the Eisenhower Years," Teaching With Documents, Volume 2 in Teaching With Documents: Using Primary Sources from the National Archives, ed. Wynell B. Schamel (Washington, D.C.: National Archives Trust Fund Board for the National Archives and Records Administration and National Council for the Social Studies, 1998), 236–238. Original Sources, accessed December 9, 2019, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=SPCR2MGNCQNRA2S.

MLA: . "A Cartoonist’s View of the Eisenhower Years." Teaching With Documents, Volume 2, in Teaching With Documents: Using Primary Sources from the National Archives, edited by Wynell B. Schamel, Vol. 2, Washington, D.C., National Archives Trust Fund Board for the National Archives and Records Administration and National Council for the Social Studies, 1998, pp. 236–238. Original Sources. 9 Dec. 2019. originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=SPCR2MGNCQNRA2S.

Harvard: , 'A Cartoonist’s View of the Eisenhower Years' in Teaching With Documents, Volume 2. cited in 1998, Teaching With Documents: Using Primary Sources from the National Archives, ed. , National Archives Trust Fund Board for the National Archives and Records Administration and National Council for the Social Studies, Washington, D.C., pp.236–238. Original Sources, retrieved 9 December 2019, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=SPCR2MGNCQNRA2S.