Teach PA History
Railroad Advertising: Let's Go For a Ride!
What to Know
Teaching Time
2 45-minute periods
Grade Level
Middle School
  • Arts and Humanities
  • Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening
  • History
Historical Period
  • The Emergence of Modern Pennsylvania - 1901-1928
  • The Great Depression and World War II - 1929-1945
  • Post-WWII Pennsylvania - 1946-1974
  • Contemporary Pennsylvania - 1975 to Present
Early public relations of railroad companies were often faced with significant challenges. People were not used to train travel and introducing change into society is difficult. In addition society held preconceived notions–many that were indeed correct–of train travel as dirty, dangerous, and inappropriate for women. Advertisers then had the task of changing public opinion about trains and making train travel appealing. In this middle-level lesson, students will look at types of early to mid twentieth century advertising (newspaper and magazine ads, postcard, calendar art, and a travel brochure) to assess the different ways advertisers "sold" the concept of railroad travel.


Students will be able to: 1. Examine, assess, and interpret varieties of early and mid-twentieth century railroad advertising. 2. Compare and contrast photograph image with the art product of that image. 3. Identify tools and techniques used by the advertising industry to sell a product or image. 4. Apply these tools and techniques to create their own railroad advertisement.

Standards Alignment

  • Arts and Humanities

    9.1.5. A. Know and use the elements and principles of each art form to create works in the arts and humanities.
    9.1.5. B. Recognize, use, and demonstrate a variety of appropriate arts elements and principles to produce, review, and revise original works in the arts.
    9.1.5. E. Knows and demonstrates how arts can communicate experiences, stories or emotions through the production of works in the arts
    9.2.12. A. Explain the historical, cultural, and social context of an individual work in the arts.
    9.2.12. B. Relate works in the arts chronologically to historical events (Historical and Cultural Contexts).

  • History

    8.1.12. B. Synthesize and evaluate historical sources.
    8.2.12. B. Identify and evaluate primary documents, material artifacts, and historic sites important in Pennsylvania history from 1890 to Present.
    8.3.12. C. Evaluate how continuity and change has influenced United States history from 1890 to Present.

  • Reading, Writing, Speaking, and Listening

    1.2.5. A. Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas.
    1.2.8.A. Read and understand essential content of informational texts and documents in all academic areas.
    1.3.5. C. Describe how the author uses literary devices to convey meaning.
    1.6.8. A. Listen to others.
    1.6.8. C. Speak using skills appropriate to formal speech situations.
    1.6.8. D. Contribute to discussions.
    1.6.8. E. Participate in small and large group discussions and presentations.

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