The Rural Electrification of Northeast Mississippi Lesson Plan

Karla Smith


Between 1930 and 1940 nearly 23,000 farm homes in Mississippi received access to electricity for the first time. This access was due in large part to President Franklin Roosevelt’s support of rural electrification and to the efforts of John E. Rankin, a Mississippi representative in the U.S. Congress. Rankin co-authored the bill for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which led to the creation of the agency by Congress in 1933, and to Northeast Mississippi becoming one of the first rural areas to receive electricity.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies 1, 3 and 4.


Grades 7 through 12



The students will:

  • Determine supporting details for generalizations.
  • Compose an editorial.
  • Create a political cartoon.


The teacher will ask students to envision their lives without electricity. What would life be like without it? How has electricity changed the way we live? The teacher will explain to the students that they will study the effects of electricity on the rural areas of Mississippi.


Students may work alone or with a partner on the list of generalizations found at the end of this lesson. The students will record their answers to support the accuracy of the generalizations as they read the Mississippi History Now article. After the students have completed the assignment, allow student volunteers to share their answers. The board can be used to record student responses which will allow the class to check their answers.

The teacher will ask the students to consider who would have supported the establishment of the TVA and who would not have supported its establishment. The teacher can record the student responses on the board during the class discussion. Examples: rural families, private utility companies, unemployed workers, dislocated persons because of TVA constructions, etc. The teacher may need to assist students with making the list.

Once the list is completed through a class discussion, place students into groups of no more than three. Instruct the students to create a political cartoon or write a newspaper editorial that expresses the view point of one of the groups on the list. Each student group can be assigned a different perspective. Students can use the Mississippi History Now article as well as other resources to create their political cartoon or write their editorials. The teacher may need to discuss the concept of political cartoons and editorials prior to the assignment.


Allow the students to share their cartoons or editorials with the class.


  • Generalizations
  • Class participation
  • Political cartoons
  • Editorials


  • Invite a spokesperson from a local electric power association or TVA to speak to the class.
  • Students can research programs created by President Roosevelt’s New Deal.
  • Students can research jobs in the energy industry, or specifically with TVA. (Accessed September 2011)
  • Students can research various types of energy, renewable resources, and/or energy-saving strategies.
  • Students can research the areas served by the TVA.

Rural Electrification in the 1930s Generalizations

Instructions: Generalizations are broad statements that represent main ideas about important events. Using the Mississippi History Now article on rural electrification, locate at least three or four details that support the accuracy of the generalizations listed below and note them next to the generalization to which they apply.

  1. Electricity made life easier.
  2. Lack of electricity caused a migration from rural to urban areas.
  3. Counties in Northeast Mississippi led the way in bringing electricity to rural areas.
  4. The federal government played a role in providing greater access to electricity.