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Elbert Hubbard: An American Original - WNED | PBS

For Educators

A Little Journey


In 1894 Elbert Hubbard traveled to Europe to research a series of short stories that he planned to call Little Journeys. Hubbard's goal was to take readers on literary pilgrimages to the homes and lives of men and women who had transformed the thought of their time. He wanted to describe the famous people in their home settings. Once a month for 14 years he published a Little Journey in booklet form. Later, collections of like-themed journeys were published in hardcover editions.


Students will:
  • Read and analyze a literary excerpt
  • Use interview and research skills to find information about a person
  • Write a biographical sketch of that person
  • Create a hand-bound edition of their biographical sketch

Necessary Materials

  • Internet connectivity
  • Excerpt from Hubbard's Little Journey to the Home of William Shakespeare
  • Book-making supplies

Relevant National Standards
NL-ENG.K-12.4, K-12.5, K-12.6, K-12.8, K-12.12, NA-VA.9-12.1, 9-12.6

Teaching Procedure

  • Read and discuss the excerpt from Hubbard's Little Journey to the Home of William Shakespeare.
    Possible discussion questions:
    - Why might Elbert Hubbard have begun his Little Journeys with European subjects?
    - Why do you think Hubbard wanted to describe his subjects in their home settings?
    - The excerpt is a mix of information about Shakespeare and Hubbard’s personal reflections. What are some examples of each?
    - Hubbard's goal was to write about people who had "transformed the thought of their time." Who are some modern-day people that would fit that category?
  • Each student will choose a person within the community to interview. As a class, brainstorm a list of interview questions. Suggest that several questions utilize information about the home/work setting to evoke insights about the person's life or character. (For example, How would you describe your home/workplace? What are five objects which are found in your primary work area? How does your home setting influence your life and your work? Etc.) The student will visit the person in his or her home or work setting to conduct the interview.
  • Each student will use the information gained in the interview to write a brief biographical sketch of his or her person of choice. Using Hubbard's format, the sketch should be a mix of information about the subject and the student's reflections about the setting and the person.
  • Each student will use a simple book-binding technique to create a hand-bound Little Journey into the Home of (their individual subject).


  • Student's hand-bound edition of his/her Little Journey

Extension Activities

  • On February 14, 1962 many Americans tuned in to watch a televised tour of the White House conducted by First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. Students may watch all or part of the tour, and create a video visit to their own home.

Online Resources


Bind It Fast. Brook West, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Easy Book Binding Tutorial. Squidoo, n.d. 9 Jan. 2010.

How to Bind a Book. eHow, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Tutorials & Reference. Book Arts Web, 24 Jul. 2009. Web. 9 Jan. 2010

White House Tour:

Echoes from the White House. PBS, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Tour. Hulu, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

The White House., n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Suggested Vocabulary: pilgrimage, biographical sketch
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Funding for Elbert Hubbard: An American Original provided by The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
Elbert Hubbard: An American Original is a production of WNED-TV