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Notable 20th Century Texans (Gr 4 and 7)
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About the Lesson
Prior Knowledge
Independent Practice

Notable 20th Century Texans
Social Studies, Grades 4 and 7

Students will be introduced to nine notable 20th century Texans through the use of primary source video.  Students will then research and develop a presentation about an additional 20th century Texan mentioned in the TEKS.

Students are familiar with the concept of a biography.

Students understand the period of time represented by the 20th century.


As a class, explore the phrase "Notable 20th Century Texan."

Start by first asking the class to answer these questions:

  • What makes someone notable?
  • In what ways might someone be notable?

Collect answers on the board.

Who have we studied so far this year that would be considered a notable Texan?

Divide the board into half and document their answers on one part of the board.

Ask the class to indicate any of the individuals that were alive in the 20th century and then move these individuals to the other side of the board.  

Brainstorm additional 20th century Texans as a class.

Discuss what types of contributions each person has made.

Do they fit into one of these categories: politics, business, culture, or science?

In which category was the class able to identify the most notable Texans? Discuss.

Announce to the class that they will be viewing a number of short videos featuring notable Texans. Before showing each video, ask students what they know about each individual.

Share biographical information about each individual from your textbook, The Handbook of Texas (links are included below), or another reputable source:

Show each video separately (see Videos).

After each film, discuss as a class how this individual fits in to the parameters of a “Notable 20th Century Texan.”

  • In which area (culture, business, science, or politics) is this individual notable?
  • How are the contributions or advancements made by these notable Texans still seen in Texas today?
  • Which 21st century Texans are making advancements in these areas?
  • How are they similar or different from their predecessors?
  • How are these Texans different from than those we’ve studied from earlier times?

Individuals or student groups should choose another 20th century Texan from the grade-specific list below.

Then, each student (or student group) should research their notable Texans and create a presentation for the class. The Handbook of Texas, is a good starting point for their research.


Students will write a short description of their chosen Texan in their own words and draw a picture of the individual. The descriptions and images will be compiled into a storybook about notable 20th century Texans that will be read aloud in class by each of its contributors. Stories should include a description of why the person is notable, what they accomplished and how they are Texan. The images should incorporate both concepts.

  • Millie Hughes-Fulford
  • Lydia Mendoza
  • Chelo Silva
  • Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe
  • Ann Richards
  • James A. Baker III
  • Clara Driscoll
  • John Tower
  • Scott Joplin
  • Audie Murphy
  • Cleto Rodríguez
  • Stanley Marcus
  • Bessie Coleman
  • Raul A. Gonzalez Jr.

Students will create a poster presentation. The presentation will include visuals of their notable Texan, relating to their area of influence (politics, science, culture, business), and representing the area of the state that the individual called home. Students should also create a biography of the individual in their own words and citing the sources they have used. Students will present their poster presentation to the class by reading the biography and explaining their image choices. Note: Students can take screen shots of the film clips from The Texas Archive of the Moving Image and The Portal to Texas History, is also a good source for archival images relating to notable Texans.

  • James L. Farmer Jr.
  • Hector P. Garcia  
  • Jane McCallum
  • Lulu Belle Madison White
  • John Nance Garner (Cactus Jack)
  • James A. Baker III
  • Kay Bailey Hutchison
  • Raymond L. Telles
  • Raul A. Gonzalez Jr.
  • Roy Bedichek
  • Diane Gonzales Bertrand
  • Scott Joplin
  • Amado Peña Jr.
  • Walter Prescott Webb
  • Benjy Brooks
  • Michael Dell
  • Howard S. Hughes, Sr.
  • Walter Cunningham

The Portal to Texas History,

Texas History Trading Cards, Portal to Texas History,

The Handbook of Texas,

Social Studies, Grade 4
5C -  Identify the accomplishments of notable individuals such as John Tower, Scott Joplin, Audie Murphy, Cleto Rodríguez, Stanley Marcus, Bessie Coleman, Raul A. Gonzalez Jr., and other local notable individuals
17A - Identify important individuals who have participated voluntarily in civic affairs at state and local levels such as Adina de Zavala and Clara Driscoll
17D - Identify the importance of historical figures and important individuals who modeled active participation in the democratic process such as Sam Houston, Barbara Jordan, Lorenzo de Zavala, Ann Richards, Sam Rayburn, Henry B. González, James A. Baker III, Wallace Jefferson, and other local individuals
19C - Summarize the contributions of people of various racial, ethnic, and religious groups in the development of Texas such as Lydia Mendoza, Chelo Silva, and Julius Lorenzo Cobb Bledsoe
20A - Identify famous inventors and scientists such as Gail Borden, Joseph Glidden, Michael DeBakey, and Millie Hughes-Fulford and their contributions
21A - Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software; interviews; biographies; oral, print, and visual material; documents; and artifacts to acquire information about the United States and Texas
22B - Incorporate main and supporting ideas in verbal and written communication
22C - Express ideas orally based on research and experiences
22D - Create written and visual material such as journal entries, reports, graphic organizers, outlines, and bibliographies
22E - Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, and punctuation
Social Studies, Grade 7
7D - Describe and compare the civil rights and equal rights movements of various groups in Texas in the 20th century and identify key leaders in these movements, including James L. Farmer Jr., Hector P. Garcia, Oveta Culp Hobby, Lyndon B. Johnson, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Jane McCallum, and Lulu Belle Madison White
18B - Identify the contributions of Texas leaders, including Lawrence Sullivan "Sul" Ross, John Nance Garner ("Cactus Jack"), James A. Baker III, Henry B. González, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Barbara Jordan, Raymond L. Telles, Sam Rayburn, and Raul A. Gonzalez Jr.
19D - Identify contributions to the arts by Texans such as Roy Bedichek, Diane Gonzales Bertrand, J. Frank Dobie, Scott Joplin, Elisabet Ney, Amado Peña Jr., Walter Prescott Webb, and Horton Foote
20B - Identify Texas leaders in science and technology such as Walter Cunningham, Michael DeBakey, Denton Cooley, Benjy Brooks, Michael Dell, and Howard Hughes Sr.
21A - Differentiate between, locate, and use valid primary and secondary sources such as computer software, databases, media and news services, biographies, interviews, and artifacts to acquire information about Texas
22B - Use standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation, and proper citation of sources
22D - Create written, oral, and visual presentations of social studies information
Introspective Cage