Families Past and Present
Social Studies, History
Change, Ways of life, Ethnicity, Immigration
Mail-order catalogues on this
- Ask students to research their own family history by talking to their
grandparents, and other family members.
- Ask them to recreate their family in a specific year, such as 1920,
1960, or 1970.
- Who were the family members in the selected year and what were their
- Where did they live?
- What were the occupations of the income earners and their sources of
- If possible, ask them to estimate what their incomes were and what
disposable income might have been.
- Ask students to find out if their families had access to mail-order
in the selected year.
- What do they remember ordering from catalogues?
- Are there any pieces of furniture or clothing in their houses today
they recall ordering from a catalogue?
- If they did not have access to mail-order catalogues, find out where
obtained items such as furniture and clothing.
- Ask students to record on paper, audiocassette, or video the memories
parents and grandparents have of mail-order catalogues:
- What was it like to receive them?
- What did they want to order?
- What do they remember ordering?
- Ask for any other stories they may have about mail order.
- Ask each student to make a presentation about his or her family in the
year. Each student should begin by placing a tack on a large map of the
representing where the family lived and then continue with a presentation
the occupations, incomes, and experiences with mail-order catalogues.
- Conclude with a class discussion comparing the experiences of the
families, and comparing experiences of the past with the present day.
This activity can be extended further by challenging students to find
ordered by their families in the historic catalogues on this site.