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Inquiry Question

Historical Context

Maps

Readings

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About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration file for the "Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site" (with photographs) and other source materials. Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site was written by Margaret Laffin, Interpretive Park Ranger at Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site. The lesson was edited by Fay Metcalf, education consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff. TwHP is sponsored, in part, by the Cultural Resources Training Initiative and Parks as Classrooms programs of the National Park Service. This lesson is one in a series that brings the important stories of historic places into the classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: The lesson could be used in U.S. history, social studies, and geography courses in units on the Gilded Age or America's industrial and economic growth. Vanderbilt Mansion will help students understand the possibilities for wealth in an age before income taxes and government regulation of business and industry. The lesson focuses on the Vanderbilt family and their rise to become one of the wealthiest families in America.
Time period: 1865-1900
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To define the Gilded Age and describe the factors that permitted the Vanderbilts and other families to amass huge fortunes.
2) To examine the lifestyle associated with the wealthy elite of the Gilded Age.
3) To consider the influence the Vanderbilt family had on the Hudson valley region.
4) To describe and discuss Frederick and Louise Vanderbilt's philanthropic efforts.
5) To conduct research on important people in their community during the Gilded Age.
6) To consider how their community benefits from philanthropic activities.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger, high-quality version.
1) two maps of New York State and the surrounding area, as well as Vanderbilt National Historic Site;
2) three readings about the Vanderbilts;
3) six photos and two drawings of Vanderbilt National Historic Site.

Visiting the site
Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, administered by the National Park Service, is located on Route 9 in the town of Hyde Park, New York. For more information, contact the Superintendent, Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Site, 519 Albany Post Road, Hyde Park, New York 12538, or visit the park's Web site.

 

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