by Jenifer Smolnik
Ellington High School, Ellington
What role does propaganda play in a time of war?
- What type of messages are being portrayed in words and/or pictures?
- How do you think each segment of the population (e.g. immigrants, German-American citizens, other foreign-born American citizens, labor leaders, pacifists, and Socialists) might have received and interpreted these advertisements and appeals?
- What do all of these propaganda materials have in common?
Things you will need to teach this lesson.
|Download a pdf of the advertisement, “America’s Answer,” Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, September 7, 1918, or click on the image above to link to the article.|
|Download a pdf of the advertisement, “To Arms! Enlistment Week!,” Norwich Bulletin, June 27, 1917, or click on the image above to link to the article.|
Students will read and reflect on the propaganda materials and discuss the supporting questions in pairs or groups. Students will use a KWL chart or Library of Congress Primary Source Analysis Tool to organize their work. Groups will share their materials and findings with the rest of the class, discuss the supporting and compelling questions, and then develop additional questions of their own.
Writing from the point of view of one segment of the population in the United States at that time, students will compose a brief (two-paragraph) letter to President Woodrow Wilson expressing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas about American entry into the war. Students may choose to write from the perspective of:
- German-Americans (including Hutterites and Mennonites)
- Other Foreign-Born American Citizens
- Labor Leaders
- Draft-Age American Citizens
- Older American Citizens
- Another group that they have identified (with approval)
This letter may express concern or support, based on the students’ interpretation of the propaganda images. Students may include evidence from readings and reference other sources they have investigated.
Students will then select a different group that might have had a different view on American entry into the war and write a second letter to President Woodrow Wilson from this perspective.
Working in pairs or groups, students will present their letters for discussion and reflection.
This TeachITCT.org activity is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University.