Was Mississippi A Part of Progressivism? Lesson Plan

Karla Smith


Progressivism was a political movement that originated as a response to the economic, political, and social problems brought about by industrialization. Poverty, child labor, unsafe factories, and crowded living conditions are just a few of the issues that Progressives worked diligently to reform. Mississippi led the nations in two areas of Progressive concern, but lagged behind the nation in the areas of woman suffrage and race relations. Progressivism came to a close in the state of Mississippi as well as the nation as the United States entered World War I. The success of this political movement can be seen in the state and federal legislation that was enacted during the height of the movement.


Mississippi Studies Framework: Competencies: 1 and 3.


Grades 7 through 12.


  • Mississippi History Now article
  • Whiteboard and marker
  • Projector (optional)
  • Chart
  • Notebook paper, pencil and pen
  • Unlined paper
  • Resource/reference books
  • Colored pencils and markers
  • Computer


Students will:

  • Identify the public concerns of Progressivism.
  • Determine Mississippi’s reaction to the public concerns of the Progressive movement.
  • Evaluate the need for reform in the areas of Progressive concern.


Ask for student volunteers to reflect upon the social ills or problems brought about by the industrialization and urbanization of society (example: child labor, lack of benefits, poor working conditions, epidemics, etc.).

Explain to the students that a political movement called Progressivism came about in the early 1900s to address these problems. Tell the class that their own state of Mississippi led the nation in addressing the reform of two of these social problems. The results of this movement, to the reforming of problems, can serve as an example to students to become more socially aware and active in their community, state, and nation.


Progressive Concerns
Progressive Issues Mississippi's Reactions
Political Power  
Child Labor  
Public Health  
Juvenile Justice  
Woman Suffrage  
Race Relations  


  1. Display the chart above on a projector or the board. This chart can also be duplicated and handed out individually to students. Have the students use the Mississippi History Now article to determine how Mississippi reacted to Progressive issues. The students may work individually or with partners for this portion of the lesson.

    After the students have completed the chart, ask for student volunteers to share their answers. The answers can be recorded on the board.

  2. Divide the class into eight groups. Assign each group one of the topics listed on the Progressive Concerns chart. Instruct each group to research these topics.

  3. Using information collected through the group research, have students draft letters to either President Theodore Roosevelt or President Woodrow Wilson concerning the need for reform in these areas. The teacher may need to review the formatting rules for business letters to public officials with the class.

  4. In addition to the business letter, or instead of the writing activity, students can create a presentation on one of the eight topics listed on the chart. Have the student groups create posters, a written report as well as an oral presentation on these progressive issues. Students should include bibliography information in their formal report. Through the research and presentation of these topics, the students should not only show the nature of these social issues, but also the need for reform in these areas. They should also refer to any state or federal laws enacted due to these concerns.


Allow each student group to read their letter to the class and/or present their presentation to the class.


  1. Class participation
  2. Chart
  3. Letter
  4. Presentation/formal reports


  1. Invite a public official to class in order to explain the primary system.
  2. Invite a guest speaker from the local health department to talk about public health procedures and concerns.
  3. Allow the students to research the lives of the national and state leaders mentioned in the Mississippi History Now article.