Silicon Valley History Online  

1906 Earthquake

Grade:
10th or 11 th Grade Social Studies

Theme:
Santa Clara County Effects From 1906 Earthquake

Lesson:
1906 Earthquake

Objective:
The students will explore the impact of the 1906 earthquake on the population of San Jose.
They will learn about the earthquake through two different perspectives.

Standards:
11.2.2, 11.2.3., 11.5.7

Time:
Two Days

Method:
Carousel

Materials:
1. SVHO pictures

San Jose High School Ruins,
Agnews Asylum Ruins,
Collapse of the Hotel Vendome,
Methodist Episcopal Church
Earthquake Damaged San Jose Main Post Office,
Earthquake Destroyed House,
Grant School Ruins,
Pioneer Drug Store in SC
Horace Mann School, ca 1895.,
Open Air School After the 1906 Earthquake
Mann School Rebuilt in 1907

2. Hand-outs:
Report Instructions: Insurance Adjustors,
Report Instructions: Governor Pardee.

Procedure:

Day One:

  1. The magnitude of the 7.8 registered earthquake of 1906 was felt from Oregon to southern California as it hit just after 5:00 a.m. on April 18. The loss of human life approached 3,000 and the physical damage exceeded $500,000,000 (in 1906 dollars) throughout the Bay Area. Much of this destruction in San Francisco came from the fire which ensued after the earthquake. However, through this loss, the citizens had to rally together and begin assessing the damage and destruction.

  2. Divide the students into groups where they will act out the different roles of insurance adjustors or Governor George Pardee, both of which are responsible for assessing the damage after the earthquake in 1906. Give each group a copy of the “Report Instructions” and have them read the introductory paragraph.

  3. Pass out the SVHO pictures to the students. Each group will fill out one of the “Report Instructions” sheet with every picture. Monitor students as they analyze each picture and write responses to the questions on the “Report Instructions.” Rotate the pictures after five minutes among the team members.

  4. To conclude, point out the role of the government in a disaster like this as well as the role of the insurance companies. Are these experts looking for the same thing? What is the main concern of the adjustor? Of the government representative? How much fire damage was indeed visible? Why?

  5. Homework: Interestingly several of the SVHO pictures are of the damage to its buildings. Write a journal entry as if the students were at school when the earthquake hit? What did you notice? How did you feel?

 

Day Two:

  1. Share the journal entries with the students. Identify common feelings and perspectives that the students identify. Discuss precautions schools have in the event of an earthquake.

  2. Use the USGS site http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/info/1906/ to write a news bulletin as if you were reporting on the earthquake. Include basic details as well as quotes from several eyewitnesses. The bulletin should summarize the major developments, which are available under the subject "earthquakes" at http://www.sfmuseum.org/

  3. Discuss the major developments of the earthquake noting specific details such as size of earthquake and death toll.

  4. Divide into teams, each team create 10 interview questions of individuals who experienced the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. The questions should include a couple factual questions and but mostly should solicit emotional responses.

  5. Homework: Students interview an individual and report their findings to the class.

Debrief: The earthquake of 1906 caused significant damage to property. Compensation for this tremendous loss was a fiercely fought battle between a variety of agencies. However, the greater loss was in human life and displacement. Discuss the affect the earthquake had on the groups of people most affected. Show SVHO picture “Open Air School After the 1906 Earthquake” and identify the ways in which the school adapted to the earthquake. What would your school do in the event that it was destroyed by earthquake?

Resources:

  1. If You Lived at the Time of the Great San Francisco Earthquake by Ellen Levine and Pat Grant Porter is a children’s book written in a question and answer format.
  2. Earthquake in the Early Morning by Mary Pope Osborne
  3. San Francisco’s Exploratorium Museum hosts this wonderful hands-on website, excellent for hands-on classroom ideas: http://www.exploratorium.edu/ls/pathfinders/earthquakes/
  4. The USGS has a thorough explanation of plate techtonics for general understanding: http://pubs.usgs.gov/publications/text/understanding.html#anchor172788
  5. The Library of Congress has twenty-six films from the earthquake: http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/papr/sfhome.html
  6. Some of the most dramatic pictures of the earthquake in San Francisco are found at the USGS site: http://quake.wr.usgs.gov/info/1906/
  7. Several good lesson plan activity ideas are found at this site: http://www.mce.k12tn.net/disasters/activities_earthquake.htm


Report Instructions: Insurance Adjustors

Print Report Instructions: Insurance Adjustors Handout

The earthquake in 1906 destroyed many buildings. Most of the buildings were covered with some sort of insurance. Insurance companies usually covered damages that were caused by fire, landslide or looting. However, insurance companies did not cover damages caused by “an act of God” such as an earthquake, tornado, or flooding.

Your team will act as insurance adjustors for a large insurance company who had the responsibility to determine if the buildings were covered by fire or the earthquake. If it is through fire, your company will pay the claim. If it is by earthquake, your company will refuse the claim.

Fill out the Insurance Analysis below to help you determine whether you will pay or refuse the claim.

  1. Describe the damages to the building and surrounding area.

    • San Jose High School Ruins

    • Agnews Asylum Ruins

    • Collapse of the Hotel Vendome

    • Earthquake Damaged San Jose Main Post Office,

    • Earthquake Destroyed House

    • Grant School Ruins

  2. Identify whether it would be more cost-effective to repair or completely rebuild. Be specific by circling one choice.

    • San Jose High School Ruins (repair/rebuild)

    • Agnews Asylum Ruins (repair/rebuild)

    • Collapse of the Hotel Vendome (repair/rebuild)

    • Earthquake Damaged San Jose Main Post Office (repair/rebuild)

    • Earthquake Destroyed House (repair/rebuild)

    • Grant School Ruins (repair/rebuild)

  3. Should the state or the insurance agency cover the damage to this building? Give a brief explanation of your reason.
    • San Jose High School Ruins

    • Agnews Asylum Ruins

    • Collapse of the Hotel Vendome

    • Earthquake Damaged San Jose Main Post Office,

    • Earthquake Destroyed House

    • Grant School Ruins



Report Instructions “Governor Pardee”

Print Report Instructions: Governor Pardee Handout

George Pardee was elected in 1903 as Governor of California. His staff was dispatched to San Jose to determine the extent of the damage. In their report, the Governor’s staff will identify the extent of destruction to determine if a “state of emergency” exists in the area. However, staffers are cautious to recommend a “state of emergency” because it will cost the state millions of dollars, money earmarked for other public projects. Therefore, the governor’s staffers are here to make sure the personal insurance companies fulfill their obligations to reimburse homeowners and business owners to alleviate the strain on state public funds and possibly avert a “state of emergency.”

  1. Describe the damages to the building and surrounding area.

    • San Jose High School Ruins

    • Agnews Asylum Ruins

    • Collapse of the Hotel Vendome

    • Earthquake Damaged San Jose Main Post Office,

    • Earthquake Destroyed House

    • Grant School Ruins

  2. Identify whether it would be more cost-effective to repair or completely rebuild. Be specific by circling one choice.

    • San Jose High School Ruins (repair/rebuild)

    • Agnews Asylum Ruins (repair/rebuild)

    • Collapse of the Hotel Vendome (repair/rebuild)

    • Earthquake Damaged San Jose Main Post Office (repair/rebuild)

    • Earthquake Destroyed House (repair/rebuild)

    • Grant School Ruins (repair/rebuild)

  3. Should the state or the insurance agency cover the damage to this building? Give a brief explanation of your reason.
    • San Jose High School Ruins

    • Agnews Asylum Ruins

    • Collapse of the Hotel Vendome

    • Earthquake Damaged San Jose Main Post Office,

    • Earthquake Destroyed House

    • Grant School Ruins