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Elbert Hubbard: An American Original - WNED | PBS

For Educators

Social and Political Reformers an


Elbert Hubbard supported his wife, Alice, in her effort to gain rights for women. He also became involved in other reform movements of the time. He invited some of the most prominent activists, including Susan B. Anthony, to speak on the campus which would become a haven in the fight for political, intellectual and social equality in early 20th century reform. Learn about these early reformers from the 20th century, what it means to be an activist or reformist and how this is still relevant in today's world.


Students will:
  • Research historical figures and their "reform" beliefs
  • Gain an understanding of what it means to be an activist
  • Explore who today’s reformers are and how students can become involved

Necessary Materials

  • Image of the "Silo"
  • Computer
  • Internet connectivity

Relevant National Standards:
NSS-USH.5-12.7, NSS-USH.5-12.6 NL-ENG.K-12.2, NL-ENG.K-12.3 NL-ENG.K-12.4 NETS 3, NETS 4

Teaching Procedure

  • Display the image titled "Silo." This photograph currently hangs in the Larkin dining room at the Roycroft Inn. It shows a farm, in which Elbert Hubbard had painted on a silo, in huge letters, "Votes For Women."
    Possible discussion questions:
    - How might this image be seen as rebellious? How might it symbolize that the Roycroft campus was a place for reform?
    - What are some ways in which people express their ideas, thoughts and opinions in today's world? Are any methods more effective than others, how or why?
    - What does it mean to be a reformer or activist? Is there a difference between the two? Can you cause reform without being an activist?
  • Have students, individually or in groups research these five speakers who appeared at the Roycroft campus; Susan B. Anthony, (Margaret Sanger) Henry Ford, Clara Barton, Clarence Darrow, and John Dewey.
  • Have the students or groups report back to the class. What was each of these reformists' issue or cause? How did they influence and affect the lives of men and women of the 20th and 21st centuries?
  • Have the students explore the newspaper or Internet and choose an article, to bring to class, about a current activist on either a local, national or global scale.
    Possible discussion questions:
    - What individual or group is working toward the change that you researched? What is their cause and how are they going about expressing their views and asking for reform?
    - Do you believe this is an important cause? Why do you think this issue is controversial? What are the obstacles for this issue? What do you think it will take to accomplish this goal or reform?
    - Did any of these individuals or groups use illegal or violent tactics in their efforts? Is this an effective way to promote reform? How has non-violent means been an effective tool in reform? (Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela)


  • Research report of historical speakers from Roycroft

Extension Activities:

  • Have students attend a city or town hall meeting either as an individual or as a group. Students should record and summarize the items and outcomes discussed during the meeting and share back with the rest of the class.
  • Have students discuss, plan and take part in an activist program; this could be on a school, community, state, national or global scale. Possible topics could include the environment, illiteracy, poverty, hunger, or politics.

Online Resources:

Civil Rights:

Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Movement. PBS, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2010.

Ordinary People, Ordinary Places: The Civil Rights Movement. National Endowment for the Humanities, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

We Shall Overcome. National Parks Service, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

The Whitehouse Tapes: Civil Rights. Minnesota Public Radio, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2010.


Battle for Suffrage. PBS, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2010.

Guided Readings: The Struggle for Women's Suffrage. Digital History University of Houston, 7 Jan. 2010. Web. 8 Jan. 2010.

Teaching With Documents: Woman Suffrage and the 19th Ammendment. National Archives, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Women's Suffrage in the Progressive Era. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2010.

Activists, Reformists:

America's Story from America's Library: Activists & Reformers. Library of Congress, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2010.

Are You a Citizen If You Can't Vote? PBS, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2010

International Civil Rights: Walk of Fame. National Park Service, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2010.

Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Open Book Systems, 15 Jan. 1996. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

The Mandela Page. African National Congress, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Mahatma Gandhi. Robin Chew, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Martin Luther King, Jr. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research and Education Institute, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Not For Ourselves Alone: The Story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. PBS, n.d. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Susan B. Anthony. Points of Light Institute, 2008. Web. 9 Jan. 2010.

Women of the West Museum: Biographies. This Shall Be the Land for Women, n.d. Web. 8 Jan. 2010.

Supplemental Materials:

Attenborough, Richard, Ed. The Words of Gandhi, Commemorative Second Edition. New York: Newmarket, 2008.
Bausum, Ann. With Courage and Cloth: Winning the Fight for a Woman's Right to Vote. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2004.
Halpin, Mikki. It's Your World ... If You Don’t Like It, Change It: Activism for Teenagers. New York: Simon Pulse, 2004.
Johnson, Charles. Mine Eyes Have Seen: Bearing Witness to the Struggle for Civil Rights. New York: Time Home Entertainment, 2007.
Johnson, Charles. Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.: His Life and Crusade in Pictures. New York: Time., 2008.
Roberts, Cokie. We Are Our Mother's Daughters. New York: W. Morrow, 2009.
Schuldt, Lori Meek. Martin Luther King, Jr.: with Profiles of Mohandas K. Gandhi and Nelson Mandela. Chicago: World Book, 2007.
Sheehan, J. Kevin. A Leader Becomes a Leader: Inspirational Stories of Leadership for a New Generation. Belmont, MA: True Gifts, 2007.
Suggested Vocabulary: activist, apathy, civil rights, gender equality, reformist, suffrage, town hall meeting
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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