The Bill of Rights

Motto from the title page of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania,
an anonymous book published in 1759, attributed to Benjamin Franklin and Richard Jackson.
The quote is from a letter sent to the Governor by the Assembly, November 11, 1755.

Ten Book Art Works that Exemplify and Comment on The Bill of Rights
The First Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution

Resources for teachers and students who visit the exhibition

View The Bill of Rights Exhibition Online

The Bill of Rights Institute: Educational resources for teachers, lesson plans.

The National Constitution Center has many educational resources, including a set of lesson plans for Elementary School: Picture Books and the Bill of Rights.

Links to other Bill of Rights resources

Read the blog posts of a high school U. S. History class assignment responding to the New York Times review of the exhiibition.

Suggested Art, Literature, and Social Studies Projects and Assignments


1. Choose one of the books in the exhibition. Create a different cover for it, or make an object out of it, that represents what that right means to you. Use materials and images that give the book personal meaning.

2. Select a different book that represents what one of the rights means to you.  Design a new cover for it, or make an object out of it,  that communicates the content visually. Choose materials and images that relate to the content.

3. Choose one of the rights. Make a book with your own text and images that expresses how that right affects your life. It can be one folded piece of paper with a cover, a book of many pages, an accordion book, a stack of popsicle sticks with string connecting them, or any form of book you can imagine and construct. Look at some examples of book art on the internet, such as The Center for Book Arts Exhibition Archives.


1. Art Criticism:  Choose one or more of the works in the exhibition. Write an essay about it. Does the work grab and hold your attention? If you look at it more than once, do you see something you didn't see before? Does it stimulate any personal feelings or memories? Do the materials and images support the metaphor of the content? Do you think about the work outside of the exhibition?  When you see or hear news items about Bill of Rights issues, do you pay more attention to them after seeing the exhibition? Has it changed the way you look at books?

2. Book Report:  Choose one of the books in the exhibition. Read it. Write a book report. Be sure to include both what the book is about and how it affects you personally. Has the book changed the way you think about your rights? Is this right threatened or secure? Do you have to do anything to protect your rights?

3. Book Report: Choose a book that is not in the exhibition that reflects what one of the rights means to you. Write a report as in the previous assignment.

4. Essay: Choose one of the rights. Write an essay exploring what that right means to you and your family. If you have experienced the benefit of the protection given by that right, or have experienced the violation of it, write a detailed personal account of what happened. 

5. Essay: Should we give up our rights to increase our security? Do you agree or disagree with the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin?

Social Studies

1. Classroom Discussion: Take today's newspaper. How many articles relate to Bill of Rights issues?

2. Classroom Discussion: What is the difference between the United States Bill of Rights and the rights guaranteed in other countries? Do all countries guarantee the rights of their citizens? 

3. Assignment: Choose a foreign country. Write a report on what rights are protected there, and what rights are violated. Does the government enforce the rights, or "look the other way" when rights are violated?

Research on the Internet

Over 17,000 web sites incorrectly quote the statement attributed to Benjamin Franklin that is in a large print that is part of The Bill of Rights set. At the top of this page is a photo of the print, which is taken directly from a scan of the title page of the 1755 book. Why is this, and what does it say about trusting the Internet to provide accurate information?

Links to Bill of Rights resources

People at all points on the political spectrum depend on the Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights Institute: Educational resources for teachers, lesson plans.

People for the American Way: Promoting freedom, fairness and tolerance

The Cato Institute: Toward limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace.

The American Civil Liberties Union: The fight for rights, liberty and freedom.

Center for Democracy & Technology: Free speech, government surveillance, data privacy.

Southern Poverty Law Center: A tolerance site, with up to date intelligence on hate groups, militias, prison reform and other topics.

Books you can order online (and read some of them online) at

The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction by Akhil Reed Amar: The history of the Bill of Rights from a leading Yale law scholar. Read 25 sample pages, and you can also order the book online.

Origins of the Bill of Rights by Leonard Williams Levy. Read 17 pages online, or order the book online.

In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy.

The Right to Privacy by Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy.

Return to the main page for The Bill of Rights limited edition set

The Bill of Rights edition is in the permanent collections of
Yale University
The Art Institute of Chicago

Read the review in The New York Times

click here to schedule an exhibition

To continue the exhibition, click one of the sections or a button

Each section has several thumbnail images and descriptions of the works. You can click on any image for a page about that work, with larger pictures and details. 

©2001-2012 Richard Minsky