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Teaching Guide: Exploring the Postwar Rise of the Suburbs

This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, Postwar Rise of the Suburbs, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.

Discussion questions

  1. Using the sources in this set, explain who was moving to the suburbs during this period and why. Who was not included? Why?

  2. What does the 1947 photograph of a full parking lot tell us about the role of cars in suburban life?

  3. Look at the 1950s postcard of a drive-in restaurant. In addition to drive-ins, what other businesses flourished when cars became central to suburban life?

  4. How do the three political cartoons characterize the concerns of suburban life?

Classroom activities

Using evidence from this set, write an essay that describes women’s roles in suburban life. How might these roles have changed from city life? How were suburban women stereotyped? Which women were excluded from suburban life?

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