HS – World War I Propaganda

We closed the road to Paris

by Jenifer Smolnik
Ellington High School, Ellington


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Immigration, World War I
Theme
The Role of Connecticut in U.S. History
Town
Bridgeport, Norwich, Statewide
Related Search Terms
The Great War, WW I, World War I, Enemy Aliens, Propaganda, Immigrants, How Connecticut Fought the War
Social Studies Frameworks
High School – United States History

Historical Background
Like many wartime leaders, President Woodrow Wilson used propaganda to encourage nationalism and patriotism among Americans. The portrayal of America as the potential savior of the Allied powers in Europe influenced American attitudes about the sacrifices required to win the war. The American government delivered many of these messages through the effective use of mass media.

D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

What role does propaganda play in a time of war?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • 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?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

 

Beware of Spies and Enemy Eavesdroppers!, Connecticut State Council of Defense, ca. 1914-1918 - Connecticut State Library
Beware of Spies and Enemy Eavesdroppers!, Connecticut State Council of Defense, ca. 1914-1918 – Connecticut State Library

 

Second United States Official War Film, "America's Answer", Presented by the Division of Films Committee on Public Information, George Creel, Chairman from The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, September, 7, 1918 - Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
Second United States Official War Film, “America’s Answer,” Presented by the Division of Films Committee on Public Information, George Creel, Chairman. A full page advertisement in the Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, September, 7, 1918 – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
page 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.

 

Our Three Lines of National Defense
R. Peckner, Our Three Lines of National Defense, poster by the National Industrial Conservation Movement, 1917 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

 

We closed the road to Paris
We closed the road to Paris – we’re on our way to Berlin. Every bond you buy of the 4th Liberty Loan is a bayonet thrust at the Kaiser, poster by AdPress, 1917 – Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

 

To Arms! Enlistment Week!
“To Arms! Enlistment Week! Connecticut’s Call to Her Sons! Native Born or Adopted!” A full page advertisement in the Norwich Bulletin, June 27, 1917 – Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
page 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.
D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

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.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

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
  • Socialists
  • Pacifists
  • Labor Leaders
  • Women
  • 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.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles & Books to READ

This TeachITCT.org activity is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University.

Grade 3 – Exploring Communities: Using Historic Maps to Learn about the Past


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Architecture, Environment, The State
Theme
Using Evidence to Learn About the Past
Town
Bridgeport, Canton, Danbury, East Haddam, Hartford, Killingly, Madison, New Haven, New London, NorwichThomaston, Vernon, Statewide
Related Search Terms
Map, Geography, Communities, Local History, Architecture, Landmarks, Insurance
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 3 – Connecticut & Local History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

Why do our communities look the way they do today?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS

In what ways has our community’s past shaped how it looks today?

How has geography affected our community over time?

How have science, technology, and innovation affected communities?

D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

An example of a Sanborn map titled Insurance maps of Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut by the Sanborn Map Company, 1904 -
An example of a Sanborn map titled Insurance maps of Danbury, Fairfield County, Connecticut by the Sanborn Map Company, 1904 – Yale University, Sterling Memorial Library, Connecticut Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps

Use the Yale University Library website–Connecticut Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps— to select and download a Sanborn fire insurance map to fit your teaching goals (you can look at the maps in your browser, but downloading the high-quality PDFs will enable students to make out more details).

You may choose just one map from your town or a nearby town, if you wish to focus on your own community, or select a few maps to show different types of environments—large cities, medium-sized towns, or smaller towns—if your focus is on urban, suburban, and rural communities. Note that many (but not all) Connecticut towns are represented in Sanborn maps. Here are a few samples from around the state:

Sanborn fire insurance maps were first published in 1867 to show how great a risk of fire there was in any town or city. The maps include all of the buildings in town, colored-coded to show what materials were used to build them (mostly “frame”/wood, brick, or stone). The maps also include important public buildings (government buildings, theaters, churches, schools, etc.), street names, and additional information. For larger cities, the maps take up several pages, like an atlas. For some communities, they are the most detailed maps available from the late 1800s to early 1900s. They are a great source of information about the past for historians–young and old!

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Using the Library of Congress’s Primary Source Analysis process, give students time to examine each of the maps you have selected, and ask them to OBSERVE, REFLECT, and QUESTION. For larger towns, you may want to start with the “title page” and then also look at a downtown detail page and one from farther outside the city center.

  1.  Observe: What do you notice first? What information does the map provide? What geographic elements are included? Which way is north/south/east/west and how do you know? Are there words on the map?
  2. Reflect: What do you think was important to the people who made this map? Does the map give us any clues about the time in which it was made? If you are familiar with this town today, what is the same and what is different? Or how is the town shown in this map similar to or different from your own?
  3. Question: What does this map make you wonder?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS
  1. Imagining they are cartographers/map-makers, students will think about their own town and develop a list of all of the special places (public buildings, landmarks, public spaces, etc.) that should be included in a new map of town.
  2. Students will try their hand at making a map using rulers and graph paper. Making a map of the classroom is an easy project to start with; if your room has floor tiles, students can use those to mark out the dimensions on the graph paper.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Places to GO
Things to DO
Articles & Books to READ

Save

Grade 5 – To Join, or Not to Join, George Washington’s Army

Detail of a recruitment poster for George Washington’s Continental Army

TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Revolutionary War
Theme
The Role of Connecticut in U.S. History
Town
Norwich, Statewide
Related Search Terms
American Revolution, Continental Army, Black Soldiers, Recruitment Posters, Equality, Valley Forge
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 5 – Early United States History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

 Why do people enlist in the military?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How did the Continental army get recruits to join?
  • Why would a young man want to enlist in the Continental army?
  • How might an enslaved man feel about serving in the Continental army?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

Recruitment poster for George Washington’s Continental army
Recruitment poster for George Washington’s Continental army – Connecticut Historical Society

This poster uses much hyperbole, including a “truly liberal and generous…bounty of TWELVE dollars, a fully sufficient supply of good and handsome clothing, a large and ample ration of provisions” and the chance for one to “embrace this opportunity of spending a few happy years in viewing…this beautiful continent,…return with pockets FULL of money and his head COVERED with laurels.” (Note: students may need to be told or reminded that many 18th-century documents used the “long s,” which looks like an “f,” at the beginning or in the middle of words in place of the familiar “s.”)

Slave Backus Fox enlistment document, 1781
Slave Backus Fox enlistment document, 1781 – Connecticut Historical Society

Certification that Beriah Bill purchased a slave named Backus Fox and enlisted him in the Continental Service in Norwich, Connecticut. Note that “enlisted for a class” means that Backus counted towards the town’s quota of soldiers they were required to provide to the army. Sometimes enslaved men who enlisted were allowed by their owners to keep a portion or all of their wages earned, but this document makes no reference to any such agreement. This is a hand-written, notarized statement.

Slave Backus Fox enlistment document, 1781 – Transcriptionpage

Transcription of the above document for students who may have difficulty deciphering the 18th-century handwriting.

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

Start by showing students the recruitment poster and asking them (as a group, individually, or with a partner) to generate observations and questions about it. Have students share their observations and questions.

Some questions that might be addressed include:

  • What is the purpose of the poster?
  • Who is the target audience for this poster?
  • What words, phrases, or images does the poster use to persuade recruits to join?

Next, show or distribute the Backus Fox document (and transcription) and ask students to share or note down:

  • What facts they know for sure from the document
  • What guesses they can make based on the evidence in the document
  • What questions they have

Some questions for discussion might include:

  • Why would the author of the document enlist an enslaved man in the Continental army?
  • How were the quotas for each town determined? What was the quota for our town? How can we find out?
  • How might the enslaved man feel about serving in the army?

Wrap up with a class discussion of the differences in perspective of free recruits and enslaved soldiers.

D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

Students can write historical fiction letters home from the war from the point of view of either a free or enslaved recruit about enlisting in the Continental army, researching historically accurate details. Students should explore motivations and expectations that led to their enlistment. They may also choose to write from the point of view of someone who paid a substitute to serve in his place, writing to explain his decision. If you wish to display the letters, final copies could be written on parchment-type paper.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ

Grade 3 – Connecticut Whaling and Maritime History


TEACHER'S SNAPSHOT
Topic
Business & Industry
Theme
Using Evidence to Learn About the Past
Town
Mystic, a village in the towns of Groton and Stonington, New London, Norwich, Stamford
Related Search Terms
Whaling, Natural Resources, Mystic Seaport
Social Studies Frameworks
Grade 3
– Connecticut & Local History
D1: POTENTIAL COMPELLING QUESTION

How have Connecticut’s maritime products and industries contributed to the history of America?

D1: POTENTIAL SUPPORTING QUESTIONS
  • How have Connecticut’s natural resources influenced the development of our state and its contribution to American history?
  • How did industries such as whaling, manufacturing, and technology create Connecticut’s history and contribute to America’s story?
  • Historically, what goods made in Connecticut have we traded elsewhere?
D2: TOOL KIT

Things you will need to teach this lesson.

right whale 1
Cutting in a right whale: View 1 – Mystic Seaport for Educators
right whale 2
Cutting in a right whale: View 2 -The Cutting In Stage – Mystic Seaport for Educators
right whale 3
Cutting in a right whale: View 3 – Hoisting the Head Mystic Seaport for Educators

This series of photographs were taken in 1903. They document the harvesting, cutting, and hoisting aboard of parts of a right whale onto the whaling bark the California. From these photographs we see the importance of the ship and the sailors as valuable resources in the whaling process, as well as the whale oil and baleen being harvested.

Shipping, shipbuilding, and whaling play a large role in New England and Connecticut history, helping to spark the Industrial Revolution in New England.

New Bedford became known as “The City That Lit the World,” and New London was the third-largest whale oil port in the United States. The whaling industry also depopulated whales in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

D3: INQUIRY ACTIVITY

In small groups, ask students to closely examine the series of three pictures and discuss:

  • What is happening in the photographs?
  • How can they tell? What do they see? Where is the evidence?

The pictures are a series showing a right whale being taken from the Atlantic Ocean and harvested for its resources.

Have students in groups discuss and research as necessary:

  • What is being gained from this harvest?
  • What are the valuable resources in the pictures?
  • What effect do these Connecticut sailors and the whaling industry have on the rest of the country?
  • How did Connecticut’s contribution to the whaling industry affect the way the world viewed America at the time?
D4: COMMUNICATING CONCLUSIONS

In groups, have students design a new flag for the state of Connecticut to reflect our maritime history, and present their new flag to the class explaining and justifying each of the elements they included on the flag.

  • Identify each symbol or design included on the flag.
  • What is the significance of each element?
  • Why did they choose to include these particular symbols?
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
Things to DO
Websites to VISIT
Articles to READ