Great Depression Gallery Walk Ideas

Instructor: Nora Jarvis

Nora has a Master's degree in teaching, and has taught a variety of elementary grades.

The Great Depression had a huge impact on people in America and the infrastructure of the country. A gallery walk can be a helpful tool in helping your students to discuss these impacts and the lives of people during the Great Depression. Use these ideas for a gallery walk to get started.

Using a Gallery Walk for the Great Depression

Gallery walks involve setting up a variety of items around your classroom and allowing students to mingle and discuss the materials. It is a great way to introduce a new subject and encourage analysis and evaluation. A gallery walk can give students the opportunity to engage with history in meaningful ways.

In this lesson, we'll look at a few examples of primary sources that you can use to create a Great Depression gallery walk. These examples include discussion questions that will encourage students to practice their higher-level thinking skills as they examine evidence and compare and contrast materials.

Historical Photographs

Photographs reveal, with painful intimacy, what people's lives were like during the Great Depression. You can display photos that show people's lives and have your students discuss what is evident in the photograph and what conclusions could be drawn about the subject of the photograph.

You may consider including:

  • Photos from Walker Evans' book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
  • Photos from the Library of Congress
  • Portraits of families and their homes

Questions to ask:

  • How do the people look in the photos?
  • How do their lives look different than yours?
  • What do you think the people in the photos were feeling or thinking when the photos were taken?


Using direct quotes from people who lived during the Great Depression can be an excellent way to shed light on the subject. Depending on the age of your students, you'll want to use either short sentences or longer passages. You might also consider assigning the reading in full, but pulling out quotes for your gallery walk.

You may consider including:

  • Quotes from The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  • Quotes from Franklin Delano Roosevelt's First Inaugural speech
  • Quotes from Herbert Hoover's Rugged Individualism speech


  • What do these quotes all have in common?
  • Which quote do you think is the most powerful? Why?
  • What do these quotes make you think about life during the Great Depression?

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