Langston Hughes, “Harlem” 1951

Langston Hughes was a dynamic artist who wrote several important works throughout his lifetime (1902-67). We have chosen to highlight his “Harlem” poem, written in 1951.

We have included a copy of the poem as well as questions and answers for your students.

For more resources for teaching during Hughes’ lifetime check out our PowerPoints:

Wing to Wing, 1951

The British government made this film in 1951 to explain the importance of the Royal Air Force (RAF) in defending the west.

Historical footage highlights several of the newer technologies and styles of aircraft.

For more on the Cold War Era check out our PowerPoints:

Classroom History games:

The Oil Industry in America, 1950

This film, titled “Twenty Four Hours of Progress”, traces the importance of oil in US industry, economy and the lives of individual Americans.

The tone and narration can make it seem boring to our media-savvy students, however the topic is relevant in American society today as new technologies are being introduced and explored every day.

This film offers many possibilities in the classroom in various Social Studies and environmental studies.

For more on the 1950s check out our Powerpoint:


Are you popular? 1947 film

This Coronet film is a typical post WWII-era film which stresses rigid gender roles and conformity. It was intended to be a social training tool for students to learn what makes a person likeable.

It might be fun to show older students in these opening weeks of school as a springboard for discussions: What items would you leave in if you were to produce a modern-day version? Is it appropriate for high school students? What does make a person popular? How are things the same/different from when this film was produced? And so on…

Braceros program, 1959

This film explains the need for Mexican migrant workers in California agriculture, including interviews with farmers and workers.

Filmed in the 1950s, it is certainly dry in parts but fascinating for students to watch as part of a class on stereotypes, immigration, foreign labor, economics, and other ideas that are still relevant to discuss today.

It would be interesting to have students compare what might be said by people in California and the US today about immigration and migrant workers.

For more on immigration during the 19th and early 20th centuries check out our Immigration and Urbanization PowerPoint. For more on the 50s check out our 1950s PowerPoint.

Cliche Family in Televisionland, 1950s

A gem of a film that shows the lengths advertising companies went to to market products in the 1950s.

Over the top characters are depicted in the race to sell, sell, sell.

A discussion on modern-day cliches would be an excellent follow-up lesson, with students making their own “Cliche Family”. What might that look like today? Would it be as easy to make this film today? What are the major cliches seen in most commercials today?

For more resources check out our 1950s PowerPoint.

African American life in Georgia in the 1950s

This purpose of this film, Palmour Street, is to help parents understand the best ways to raise their children, especially in the face of obstacles.

We feel it is worth showing to students because it shows an African American family in rural Georgia in the 1950s as a normal functioning family, important images for all to see as the Civil Rights Movement takes over much of the discussion about Black History beginning in this decade.

It can be shown in contrast to the other major themes of the 50s, consumerism and technicolor.

For more Black History Month resources check out our PowerPoints:

What About Prejudice, 1958

This film explores the concept of bias and prejudice.

It follows a student in high school, who is never shown from the waist up, who is initially shunned and his eventual acceptance into the larger group.

Interestingly, it shows students analyzing the roots of their biases, and provides some great discussion points in today’s classroom.

It is certainly relevant as part of Black History Month curriculum.

Hydrogen bomb in color

This very short but narrated video clip shows the amazing destructive power of the h-bomb.

For more on this era check out our resources:

US History PowerPoints

World History PowerPoint

Simulation games

Guest Post: 1950s and Dating

While the 1950s are notoriously known as the Cold War era, it was also a time period that paved the way for the creation of a very unique and distinct group of people— teenagers. These teens, who were survivors of both the economic depression and World War II, not only developed their own interests, style of dress, and listened to their own type of music, but were also the first youth generation to possess economic power— something that greatly influenced the concept of modern dating.

During this time period, America’s main concern revolved around creating wholesome and safe communities during an era of hostile uncertainty: No one could predict the outcome of The Cold War and Red Scare. Though it wasn’t a nuclear weapon, dating threatened that safety and sparked much concern for parents and school administrators who disapproved of teen’s values.  These parents and administrators wanted order and began to create boundaries and rules to prevent teens from engaging in any type of disorderly behavior.  Some rules included prohibiting girls from wearing pants and boys from wearing jeans, prohibiting boys from having hair passed their ears, and shutting down dances if teens got too intimate while dancing.

In an attempt to encourage teens to abide by society’s conservative standards, many instructional videos were released as a reference guide for teens. The classic film produced by Coronet entitled What to do on a Date is a perfect example of how older generations tried to steer teens into the right direction.

The video, although it may not be extremely obvious at first, demonstrates how these generations promoted group dating to discourage heavy petting and wanted teens to save their money instead of spending it on courtship. This classic instructional video which follows a young teen’s attempt to ask a woman out on a date will not only give students good insight into this time period’s common dating rituals and expectations, but will also keep them interested since it’s something that can relate too. It might even spark some laughter, since the ideas presented are clearly outdated for this generation.


This guest post is contributed by Olivia Coleman, who writes on the topics of online colleges and universities.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: olivia.coleman33