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Interpreting the Evidence

Statue of Liberty, 1936

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    The Great Depression and WW II (1929 - 1945)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load Statue of Liberty, 1936 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
View of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, 1936. The statue, modeled by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi 1834-1904, was a gift to the United States from France in 1884. It was dedicated on October 28, 1886 and was designated a National Monument on October 15, 1924.
Historical Context
The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States from France in 1884 in honor of the two countries' ongoing friendship since the American Revolution. Designed by sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi, the statue was intended to be a gift for America's centennial in 1876. However, this giant statue was not completed until 1884.  Then it had to be shipped from France to the United States, which required disassembling the statue into 350 pieces.  When the pieces of the statue arrived in New York Harbor in June 1885, the pedestal for the statue, which was constructed in the United States, still wasn't finished.  After the pedestal was completed in April 1886, the statue was reassembled on the pedestal.  Finally, the Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886.  

The Statue of Liberty has greeted millions of immigrants and visitors to the United States for well over 100 years.  For visitors and Americans alike, seeing the statue for the first time can be an emotional experience.  The statue is an awe-inspiring sight because of its size, beauty, and especially because of what it represents.  As a whole, the Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom and democracy.  The separate parts of the statue also have meaning.  For example, the seven rays on the crown represent the seven continents and seven seas, the tablet in the statue's left hand reads (in Roman numerals) "July 4th, 1776," and a broken shackle lies at the feet of the statue.

Essential Question
How do symbols unite people?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and explain how the Statue of Liberty unites the American people.
Historical Challenges
What changes have been made to the Statue of Liberty since it was erected?
The original title on this photograph was "Statue of Liberty, Bedloe's Island, New York Bay." Research the history of Bedloe's Island. When was its name changed to Liberty Island?
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: The Statue of Liberty is over 150 feet tall and stands on top of a pedestal that is 154 feet high. How tall are the statue and pedestal combined?
Science: Why is the Statue of Liberty green?
English Language Arts: What famous poem was written about the Statue of Liberty?
English Language Arts: A huge fund-raising campaign in the United States raised a large sum of money for the construction of the pedestal for the Statue of Liberty. Write a persuasive article convincing Americans to donate to the Statue of Liberty.