Norman Rockwell's Four Freedoms

A gifted storyteller and a masterful painter, Norman Rockwell was also chronicler of his times. His images celebrate the extraordinary in the commonplace, inspiring us to see that which we may not have noticed ourselves during the course of our busy lives. Universal and particular, his striking scenes of everyday life tell America’s story with affectionate humor, dignity and kindness. The beauty, warmth and integrity of his artworks, created for mass publication, resonates as strongly today as when they were first painted.

The lessons and ideas for learning in the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Four Freedoms Curriculum are adaptable for elementary and secondary grade levels, and educators are encouraged to choose those best suited to individual class needs and educational goals.

Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear, inspired a nation during World War II and continue to do so today. Inspired by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1941 State of the Union Address, Norman Rockwell created his Four Freedoms paintings as a contribution to the World War II effort. In his historic address to the American people, President Roosevelt identified four basic human rights that he believed should be guaranteed “everywhere in the world,” thereby citing the objectives of war with an emphasis on his hopeful view of the postwar world.

Lessons relating to Rockwell’s artworks have been established within the context of three academic subject areas: Visual Art, History/Social Studies, and Language Arts.  

Created in the Understanding by Design model, which promotes student engagement and encourages the application of knowledge in meaningful ways, the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Four Freedoms Curriculum:

  • focuses on “big ideas” worthy of deeper consideration
  • frames units of study around essential questions
  • offers a continuum of assessment methods to help promote student understanding

The Four Freedoms Curriculum features the following related themes:

  • Rockwell, Roosevelt & the Four Freedoms
  • World War II
  • The Legacy of the Four Freedoms: Civil Rights
  • Civility and Citizenship
  • Norman Rockwell’s Creative Process

Through engagement with this curriculum, teachers and students will be well acquainted with Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms and the cultural and historical precepts surrounding them. They are designed to inspire thought-provoking discourse about the images within their time, as well as significance of these enduring ideals in our world today.


Leadership Support: 
Jay Alix, The Alix Foundation, The Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation
National Presenting Sponsor: Travelers Insurance
Major Support: Anonymous, Michael Barkin, Helen Bing, Elephant Rock Foundation, Annie and Ned Lamont, Ted Slavin
Ford Foundation, Heritage Auctions, National Endowment for the Arts
Media Sponsors: Curtis Licensing - The Saturday Evening Post, Norman Rockwell Family Agency
Additional Support: Anthony and Susan Consigli, Ralph and Audrey Friedner, Louise Holland, our GoFundMe Supporters

Curriculum Authors: Cheryl Paulsen and Karen Romeo-Leger, with Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, Mary Berle, Tom Daly, Patrick O’Donnell

Digital Platform: Rich Bradway, Adage Technologies