Big Business Carnegie Rockefeller Robber Barons or Captains of Industry?


With an interactive slideshow and an engaging presentation, students will master important terms and explore history through political cartoons of big names like Carnegie and Rockefeller. Were they ‘robber barons’ or ‘captains of industry’?


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With this activity, students will learn about the major vocabulary surrounding the rise of industry. I find that understanding of that vocabulary is often assumed and is not explained well. Therefore, I created a scenario with an interactive slideshow to explain each of the terms before diving into the history. Students will then assess several cartoons discussing the industrialists (Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller) to determine if they could be best described as robber barons or captains of industry.

Included in this resource:

  • A handout for students – Google Slides version (editable), PowerPoint (editable), and a PDF version with corresponding presentation
  • A digital version of the lesson for Google Slides
  • A lesson plan for implementation

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