Dixie Harper
Criminal Justice, U.S. History, Social Science, Cultural Geography
Material Type:
High School
  • Economically Disadvantaged
  • Library of Congress
  • Primary Sources
  • Social Justice
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Media Formats:

    Moonshine and Methamphetamine - Understanding the Historical and Present-Day Impact on the Economically Disadvantaged

    Moonshine and Methamphetamine - Understanding the Historical and Present-Day Impact on the Economically Disadvantaged


    This activity was produced in conjunction with The Library of Congress and the TPS at Metropolitan State University of Denver. 

    This activity will allow learners to look with with empathy, respect and understanding:

    • prohibition and the war on drugs
    • the historical and present day challenges these present for economically disadvantaged individuals

    Activity Plan for High School students Grades 9-12

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    Activity Plan


    Program Title  Moonshine and Methamphetamine - Understanding the Historical and Present-Day Impact on the Economically DisadvantagedInstructional LevelGrades
    Target AudienceSecondary Students
    TPS Western Region LocationNorth Georgia    


    Resources UsedSocial Justice Standards    
    Diversity Anchor standards:
    1. Students will respectfully express curiosity about the history and lived experiences of others and will exchange ideas and beliefs in an open-minded way.
    2. Students will respond to diversity by building empathy, respect, understanding and connection.
    3. Students will examine diversity in social, cultural, political and historical contexts rather than in ways that are superficial or oversimplified.
    Facing History and OurselvesAnalyzing Images and/or the Crop It strategy
    Library of Congress Teacher Resources C3 Teachers: Inquiry Design ModelGeorgia Performance Standards:Additional sources:Teacher's Guide: Analyzing Photographs & Prints | Teacher Resources - Library of Congress (
    • D2.Civ.4.9-12. Explain how the U.S. Constitution establishes a system of government that has powers, responsibilities, and limits that have changed over time and that are still contested.
    • D2.Civ.6.9-12. Critique relationships among governments, civil societies, and economic markets.
    • ELAGSE9-10W8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
    • ELAGSE9-10W9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
    • ELAGSE9-10SL1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
    • ELAGSE9-10SL2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source
    • ELAGSE9-10SL4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.


    Introductory Text/ Program justificationJust as many economically disadvantaged people engaged in the production and sale of illegal alcohol, or "moonshine" during Prohibition, despite the risks and consequences, today many individuals participate in the illegal drug trade. This can lead to criminal activity, including organized crime, and can have negative impacts on communities and public health.


    Materials needed: 
    • Internet access to view photographs, read articles, and watch videos and a method for sharing links with students
    • Devices for collaborating (or whiteboards or poster paper to collaborate)
    Consumables & Copies
    • 1 copy per student:   (can be double sided to save paper)


    LOC Primary Source links
    1. Government Officers Destroying a Moonshine Illicit Still. [Between 1900 and 1920] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>. 
    2. N.C. - 2 moonshiners working at still in mountains. [Ca. 191-?] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>. 
    3. Moonshine still recently confiscated by the Internal Revenue Bureau photographed at the Treasury Department. [Between 1921 and 1932] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>. 
    Entry Activity/Task
    • Hook question:  Did you know that the Moonshine King was from Georgia?  Did you know that Georgia was one of the first states to limit the sale of cold medications like Sudafed?
    • Handout the Vocabulary K-W-L graphic organizer.  Give the students a few minutes to fill in the spaces for the words:  moonshine, still, prohibition, methamphetamine, revenuer.
    • Discuss what they filled in the KWL chart. Summarize their answers on the board/poster.
    • Briefly explain the history of Prohibition in the United States, focusing on the years from 1920-1933 when the production, sale, and transportation of alcohol were illegal.
    • Discuss how the production of illegal alcohol, or moonshine, became a widespread practice in the South during this time.
    • Explain that today, methamphetamine is a highly addictive and dangerous drug that is produced and distributed illegally.
    Focused Activity/Task
    • Divide the class into small groups.  Consider assigning jobs to each group member such as, recorder, discussion leader, device driver, material gatherer, and spokesperson.
    • Using the provided links to the three primary sources, (or provide a printed copy to each group) have the students to analyze the photos using the Primary Source Analysis organizer.
    • Have the spokespeople share the thinking of their group.
    • Next, ask each group to look up information about the production of moonshine in the South during Prohibition and the production and distribution of methamphetamine today using the additional sources links.  Have them record their findings.
    • Have the spokespeople share their findings.
    • Facilitate a class discussion on the ways in which the economically disadvantaged have been affected by the production and distribution of both moonshine and methamphetamine.
    Conclusion Activity/TaskExtension Activity
    • Have each student on their own summarize the key points made during the class discussion and review the ways in which the economically disadvantaged have been affected by the production and distribution of both moonshine and methamphetamine.
    • Ask the students to reflect on what they have learned and consider the implications of illegal production and distribution of drugs on society as a whole.
    • Encourage the students to think about what can be done to address these issues and help those who are affected.
    • Have the students conduct further research on the impact of illegal drugs on society and the efforts being made to address the issue. (Consider providing links to sites not blocked by district firewall, if necessary)
    • Encourage the students to write a persuasive essay or give a class presentation or PSA on their findings. (Sample PSA Lesson Plan)


    Assessment of Student Learning
    • Observe the class discussion to assess the students' understanding of the ways in which the economically disadvantaged have been affected by the production and distribution of both moonshine and methamphetamine.
    • Use the students' written summaries of the key points made during the class as a form of assessment. (Rubric)


    Student Learning Accommodations & Modifications
    • Allow students to use voice to text (or dictate) to record their notes
    • Give students a vocabulary list rather than the KWL chart
    • Create a graphic organizer for students to fill out rather than writing a summary of their findings


    Multicultural Considerations
    • Economically disadvantaged students may feel uncomfortable.
    • Students who experience drug use or alcoholism at home may be upset by some of the discussions and may be fearful of law enforcement.  Provide opportunities for these students to communicate their thoughts in a more private setting rather than speaking out in class.
    • Students who are new to the country may not understand the South’s history and may need more background knowledge to make connections to the discussion.



    Adapted from template by Creator: Morgen Larsen for

    Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International LicenseA black and white logo

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