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6-12 > U.S. History

Presidential Speeches
Grade Level  6-8, 9-12
Subject Area  U.S. history
Curriculum Focus  civics, language arts, art
Duration  1 hour each

  Students will listen to and analyze a presidential speech in order to understand the principles held by the president and the historical context in which the speech was made; prepare and hold a campaign and reelection simulation involving the featured presidents to compare leadership qualities; research and collect historical information surrounding each featured president and play a trivia game based on this information.

  Step back in time and hear some of the most memorable presidential speeches of the postwar era. The six Presidential Media Pages below provide links to the past.

Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Ronald Reagan
Richard M. Nixon
Jimmy Carter
These audio files can be experienced by downloading an “.aiff” file (slowest method) or using RealAudio or RealPlayer plug-ins (both featuring streamed audio for “real time” playback). The RealPlayer plug-in is free to download. They can be found atRealPlayer.

For your convenience, the download times are provided for each speech. After listening to these speeches, try some of the related activities.

  Try the following activities:
  1.  A Few Choice Words
Discover the meaning behind the words of the presidents by taking a closer look at these speeches.
  2.  Reelection Simulation
How different would things be if we reelected one of our past presidents? Judge for yourself.
  3.  Presidential Scavenger Hunt
Uncover some interesting facts about the presidents and the times in which they lived.

Image Credit:
Special Collections Library
Duke University
Developing an understanding of human experience and culture requires access to historical documentation in many forms and subject areas. The Special Collections Library at Duke University preserves such documentation and promotes its use. While the library’s holdings are developed in relation to instructional and research interests in the University, they are available for use by visiting scholars and the general public as well as Duke faculty and students.

  Jay Lamb and Sandy Lamb, Secondary history and social studies teachers at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, VA.