Diseases are Real

Author: Sara Chavarria
Editor: Stephanie Nardei, MLS

Time: 7 class periods
Photocopy Handout 1
Materials: Handout 1 – Power point data list


The purpose of this Explore/Explain lesson is to have students actively research different industries or community element that contributed to the sanitation and pollution problems in the past.  Students must investigate the direct result of such unhygienic practices.  Results would be disease outbreaks or specific illnesses lowering a person’s quality of life. 

Students will be able to:
1. Create a power point presentation using tutorials below if necessary addressing pollution and disease problems during the American Industrial Period by conducting research using internet and library sources.

National Council for History in the Schools
Historical Thinking Standards

  • Standard 1F: Reconstruct patterns of historical succession and duration.
  • Standard 2G: Draw upon visual data, literary, and musical sources.
  • Standard 4B: Obtain historical data.
  • Standard 4D: Identify the gaps in the available records, marshal contextual knowledge and perspectives of the time and place, and construct a sound historical interpretation.

United States History Standards

  • Era 6 Standard 1: how the rise of corporations, heavy industry, and mechanized farming transformed the American people.
  • Era 7 Standard 1: How Progressives and others addressed problems of industrial capitalism, urbanization, and political corruption.

Teacher Background
When creating the list of health concerns, the tenement problem of the city should be listed. If teacher wants to introduce subject prior starting the project, use the resource links below.

It is recommended the teacher define the Progressive Era and Social Darwinism.  Use resources below.

Resource Websites
Content Resources
Progressive Era on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Progressive_Era
Social Darwinism on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism
Digital History: http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=210
American History 102: http://us.history.wisc.edu/hist102/lectures/lecture06.html
Social Darwinism: http://www.arikah.com/encyclopedia/Social_Darwinism
Manufacturing food in the tenements: http://tenant.net/Community/LES/foods12.html
Progressive Era statements: http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/schools/rmhs/depart/history/apus/prog6/main.html
American Memory Timeline: http://memory.loc.gov/learn/features/timeline/index.html
Images of work and workers: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/detroit/dethome.html
Jacob Riis images: http://www.masters-of-photography.com/R/riis/riis.html

Powerpoint Tutorials:
Microsoft Powerpoint Tutorial: http://www.bcschools.net/staff/PowerPointHelp.htm
Powerpoint in the classroom: http://www.actden.com/pp/
Powerpoint Tutorial: http://einstein.cs.uri.edu/tutorials/csc101/powerpoint/ppt.html
Powerpoint 200 Tutorial: http://www.fgcu.edu/support/office2000/ppt/index.html



Day 1
1. Display ponder question from previous lesson:

How serious were health concerns raised by the sanitation issues you identified?

2. There is an issue of disease and illness. The class will research the health diseases and illnesses affected the American population during this time. Students will individually research projects locating diseases directly resulting from contamination and pollution associated with industry or community elements (such as tenement houses, stables, overcrowded conveyances, filthy streets, etc.) The teacher will assign different topics to students referencing the Public Health List from the previous lesson and the “Working 9 to 5?”  Industries list to compile a new working list.

3. Students will be responsible for the following data (Handout 1):

a. Industry or community element

    i. Explain what the industry or community element is. (include image)

    ii. Identify what is the cause of contamination or pollution at the identified locale. How does it get to people or the environment?

b. The disease or illness

    i. Explain what specific disease or diseases can result from the situation.

    ii. Define what the disease is and how it manifests itself.

c. Outbreaks

i. Locate an example of an outbreak in a city or factory town.

ii. Address implications of such outbreaks (death, illness, survival rates, etc.)

iii.Address who got ill (age and wealth)

iv. Identify any medications available for the illness or disease and who had access to them. Explore why.

v. Address how common such outbreaks could be and where they tended to occur.

d. Exposés

i. Identify an article or muckraker that pointed out this problem and find example. Include an image or quote from their work.

e. Regulation

i. Identify at least one possible regulation or labor movement that attempted to correct the problem at the local level. Give dates and title of regulation(s).

ii. Identify statewide regulation(s) addressing the problem. Give dates and title of regulation(s).

iii. Identify national regulation(s) enacted to deal with the problem. Give dates and title of regulation(s).

iv. Create a timeline, showing the succession of these regulatory actions.

f. Today

i. Locate a modern image of the same industry or community element for comparison.

ii. Address the implications today of these historic sanitary blunders. Are any of their ‘leftovers’ still haunting us today?

4. Students write down ideas and a tentative outline using what they have done in the past and the list of data (above) of the materials they must locate.

Days 2-4

5. Students will have a day of library research and a day of Internet research. They may have an additional day for research, if teacher chooses.

Day 5

6. Students create a Power Point presentation using tutorials listed in resource section if necessary (or traditional report) incorporating all information. The presentation or report should address how the industry or community element has changed from the turn of the century to our present day because of awareness and regulation. (If students are creating traditional reports they will need to prepare presentation materials using posters, overheads, or handouts.)

Day 6-7

7. Students will their research to the class.  Presentations will take 5-10 minutes each.

8. End by noting that Industry has been defined, the implications of combining jobs and technology during the Industrial Revolution need to be further addressed. Pose the question: How did technology define business, the city landscape, and the American worker’s role during the Industrial Revolution?

If applicable

Embedded Assessment
Notes for accuracy of content researched and recorded.

Power Point presentation or report for accuracy and presentation effectiveness.

PULSE is a project of the Community Outreach and Education Program of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center and is funded by:

NIH/NCRR award #16260-01A1
The Community Outreach and Education Program is part of the Southwest Environmental Health Sciences Center: an NIEHS Award


Supported by NIEHS grant # ES06694

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Last update: November 10, 2009
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