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The Lost Art of Letter Writing


Return to Better Letters: Lesson Plans for Teaching Letter Writing

Subjects Arts & Humanities
  • Language Arts
Educational Technology

Social Studies
  • Civics
  • Government
  • History
    • U.S. History
    • World History
  • 6-8

  • 9-12

  • Advanced

Brief Description

Students read and reflect on the letters of Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the United States. What do those letters reveal about the man and the times in which he lived? What do the letters you write today reveal about you?


Students will
  • read a variety of Harry Truman's letters to his wife Bess Truman and his daughter Margaret; these letters reveal the personal side of Harry Truman.
  • analyze and draw conclusions about Truman's character, attitudes, ethics, lifestyle, and interpersonal relationships.
  • note the differences and similarities in language and style between Truman's letters and modern personal letters.
  • compose letters, including a letter to a living person you admire, such as a teacher or relative, and to an individual or company to "right a wrong."
  • generate conclusions about what letters reveal about the letter writers.


president, Truman, letter, writing, character, ethics

Materials Needed

All materials, including copies of the Truman letters, can be downloaded from the site referenced below.

Lesson Plan

Harry Truman, the 33rd president of the United States, served from 1945-53. In this lesson, students reflect on what Harry Trumans letters reveal about the man and the times in which he lived. Students then write a series of letters of their own and reflect upon what those letters might reveal if found 25 years in the future.

For the complete lesson, go to the lesson plan The Lost Art of Letter Writing, at the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum Web site.


This lesson plan includes a rubric for rating student performance.

Lesson Plan Source

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards


    GRADES 5 - 12
    NSS-USH.5-12.8 Era 8: The Great Depression and World War II (1929-1945)
    NSS-USH.5-12.9 Era 9: Postwar United States (1945 to early 1970s)

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Return to the letter-writing lesson plan page.

Originally published 09/27/2002
Last updated 05/28/2007