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August 18

Montgomery Ward published the first mail-order catalog in 1872.

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Montgomery Ward published the first mail-order catalog in 1872.

Grades 5 – 12
Calendar Activity Type Historical Figure & Event

 

EVENT DESCRIPTION

 

 

In a world full of junk mail and an endless array of catalogs, students may not think much about where it all started—in Chicago, Illinois in 1872, when entrepreneur Montgomery Ward mailed a one-page catalog to rural shoppers.

 

CLASSROOM ACTIVITY

 

 

Explore how mail-order catalogs have changed over the years. Most libraries will have reproductions of a Ward or a Sears and Roebuck catalog. Alternately, access the linked images from the entry on Ward from the Engines of Our Ingenuity website or the online images from an 1875 Montgomery Ward catalog available on Flickr (with login). Ask students to consider how and why catalogs have changed over the years. After discussing the obvious differences, such as the use of color in modern catalogs and the differences in paper quality, focus students' attentions on the layout and style of the catalogs. As an extension, ask students to compare their findings about printed catalogs with online catalogs.

 

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Grades   3 – 5  |  Lesson Plan  |  Standard Lesson

Investigating Junk Mail: Negotiating Critical Literacy at the Mailbox

Students increase their media literacy skills by critically examining and revising junk mail.