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A Different View of the Statue of Liberty through Primary Sources

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Statue of Liberty, New York. Carol Highsmith

Share a picture of the Statue of Liberty with your students. What do they know about the statue? Do they know it was gift from France to celebrate the 100th birthday of the United States? Do they know anything about the sculptor, Frederic Bartholdi? Do they know that the person who created the steel interior of the statue is the same person who designed the Eiffel Tower?

What do they see when they look an image of the statue? Why does she wear a crown? What is on the book she carries? Why does she carry a torch? How is she posed?

Encourage students to look at a full length image of the Statue of Liberty. Is she standing still or does the statue depict movement? What influenced their decision? Then show a close up image of her feet? What do they see? Why do they think Bartholdi decided to show the statue’s feet as if she is walking? Where is she walking to?

Aerial view of the Statue of Liberty. Carol Highsmith

Aerial view of Lady Liberty’s feet and pedestal looking north. – Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, Manhattan, New York County, NY

Share that the full name of the statue is “Liberty Enlightening the World.” Why do they think this name was chosen and how does it relate to the symbolism of the statue?

Share the poem found at the base of the statue, “The New Colossus” by Emma Lazarus. Lazarus wrote this poem as a fund-raiser for the Statue of Liberty. Why is this poem placed at the statue and what is the message of the poem?

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Does the Statue of Liberty mean the same thing now as when it was placed in New York Harbor? Share your students’ responses in the comment section of this post.


  1. I did my primary sources project on the Statue. There are some great photos of the statue being made, the interior of her face, etc. in the LOC collection.

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