Lesson Plans Wilson, Ellen


Wilson, Ellen
The Long Road to the White House
   First Lady Ellen Wilson met Woodrow Wilson when he was a lawyer.  Once married, he was offered a teaching position at a college.  He was able to move up the ladder and eventually became president of Princeton University, his alma mater.  Soon after, he became governor of New Jersey, then ran for the President of the United States and was elected in 1913.    This lesson explores the many ‘hats’ that Presidents wear during the long road to Presidency.  In most cases, the presidents marry long before the election, which automatically causes First Ladies to transition through many work experiences alongside their husbands.  
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Law, Politics and Govt

Wilson, Ellen
Changing the Cities’ Skylines
It wasn’t until the late 1800s that the skyscrapers began to alter the skyline of cities.  Until that point, buildings had only as many stories as the number of floors to which workers could easily climb the stairs!  The New York that Ellen saw as a young art student was not the same city that she knew as First Lady.
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Wilson, Ellen
Ragtime: The First “American” Music?
Much of Ellen Wilson’s life was spent as the wife of a college professor, at Bryn Mawr, Wesleyan University, and, finally, Princeton.  If college students then were like college students now (and they probably were!), the Wilsons were exposed to most popular music of the day, including music which some thought was “degrading” and even “sinful.”  Such a kind of music was ragtime, a bouncy, march-like music with a syncopated, “off” beat, that gave it it’s “ragged” style.  In fact, ragtime music laid a foundation for jazz, and both ragtime and jazz are considered to have been “born in America.”
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Sports and Popular Culture

Wilson, Ellen
Who Invented Crayons?
   Although Ellen Wilson's three daughters were teenagers when Crayola crayons were invented, generations of adults have been very glad to be able to give such colorful art materials to their children.  Did you ever wonder where they came from?
Skill: Elementary School     Category: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

Wilson, Ellen
1914: A Momentous Year
   First Lady Ellen Wilson experienced much turmoil during her life with President Wilson.  Her husband influenced many major changes in the financial structure of the nation, and watched Europe begin World War I.  As First Lady, Ellen Wilson felt the emotion as she supported her husband.  What the family and the American people did not realize was that Mrs. Wilson was beginning to experience an illness that would eventually lead to her death only two years into her term as First Lady.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Law, Politics and Govt

Wilson, Ellen
Who Really Invented Flight? What a Fight!
   Today, much debate continues as to the ‘first in flight’ title.  Most claim that the Wright brothers were the very first to fly a self-powered machine capable of carrying a human in the air.  Ellen Wilson, before becoming first lady, would have heard little of the event, as only four newspapers in the United States printed the news made in Kitty Hawk. Mr. Santos-Dumont, a Brazilian, publicly demonstrated his flying machine years after the Wright brothers.  This man was well-known in Paris, the world ‘headquarters’ for flight as a pioneer in flight.  In October 1906, he flew his aircraft in Paris, France and drew much publicity for his feat, whereas in December of 1903, the Wright brothers flew their craft with very little publicity in Kitty Hawk, N.C., United States. 
Skill: Middle School     Category: Science, Medicine, Inventions and tech

Wilson, Ellen
Fire! The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Trial and It's Aftermath
   In early spring of 1911, a deadly fire struck the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in lower Manhattan.  The ramifications of the fire reached far beyond the high number of deaths, for this single event gave impetus to the leadership of Samuel Gompers and the rise of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union.  Ellen Wilson was certainly aware of this catastrophe, the subsequent trial, and the growing demand for safety in the workplace.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Wilson, Ellen
Let's Make a World Series Almanac
President Woodrow Wilson was a serious fan of baseball, and played himself during his freshman year at Davidson College.  He was also the first President to attend a World Series. Ellen Wilson no doubt also engaged herself in her husband's enthusiasm, although it is unknown if she was well enough to attend any World Series while in the White House.
Skill: Middle School     Category: Sports and Popular Culture

Wilson, Ellen
Mrs. Wilson’s Alley Bill
One of Ellen Wilson’s greatest concerns after she moved to Washington, D.C., was the housing conditions of the city’s poor.  The bill that bears her name is a lasting tribute to her compassion and caring.
Skill: High School/College     Category: First Ladies' Lives

Wilson, Ellen
Building the American Dream; Architecture and Our Way of LIfe
Ellen Axson Wilson was both an artist and a competent architect, being interested all her life in both painting and architectural design.  She was also interested (and quite active, as First Lady) in improving the lives of those less fortunate than herself and her contemporaries.  Thus, the link between architecture and human well-being was present in her life and works.
Skill: High School/College     Category: Economics, Discovery and Daily Life

Wilson, Ellen
Designing an Appalachian Folk Art Museum
   Ellen Wilson was, along with many other things, a very good artist, and was interested in arts of all kinds.  She was also particularly interested in helping people help themselves.  Although she did not personally oversee a collection of Mountain Folk Art, she might very well have been interested in doing so had she had the chance.
Skill: High School/College     Category: Sports and Popular Culture

Wilson, Ellen
Statehood for Puerto Rico? You Decide!
On Valentine's Day in 1912, nine months before Woodrow Wilson was elected to the Presidency, Arizona became the 48th and final continental U.S. state.  In 1959, Alaska and Hawaii became the 49th and 50th states.  Now there is an effort to bring Puerto Rico into the Union as the 51st state.  Where do YOU stand on the matter?
Skill: High School/College     Category: Religion, Social Issues and Reform

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