Why do people enlist in the military?
- What official and unofficial tools were used to encourage/pressure men into voluntary military service in 1917?
- What messages did men receive in 1917 about participating voluntarily in military service—or not?
- In what ways were families of soldiers encouraged to show public support for sons or husbands in the service?
Things you will need to teach this lesson.
- Discuss the compelling and supporting questions that will guide the inquiry and add any additional student-generated questions to the list.
- Divide the class into five working groups, each with one primary source set from the toolkit.
- Start the observation and analysis process by asking students to identify what type of sources they have in their set: Photograph? Poster? Newspaper article? Advertisement? Sheet music? Artifact? Something else?
- Next, students will make a list of observations for each of their sources, indicating what they know by looking at or reading the source. Find helpful guiding questions for analyzing all different types of primary sources on the Library of Congress’s “Teacher Guides and Analysis Tools” page.
- After making detailed observations, students will move on to reflecting and posing hypotheses and ideas based on the clues available to them in the source. These may include who the intended audience was, what the purpose of the item was, what the historical context might have been, or whether such an item would be produced today—and why or why not.
- Finally, students will generate additional questions they have about their sources and ideas for where or how they could find out more.
- Each group will share the primary sources in their set with the class and together the students will revisit the compelling and supporting questions and discuss additional questions for inquiry.
- Students will create a word cloud representing the most common key words or phrases used in the primary sources examined by the class (e.g. man, flag, service, America, enlist, pride, etc.) To find free online tools to help with this activity, search for “free word cloud generator.”
- Students will examine the official recruitment website for one branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and identify the main messages communicated through the site. Students will then create a written piece or graphic organizer comparing this communication tool with one or more of the World War I primary sources examined in the inquiry activity.
- Students will investigate the Blue Star Families organization and write a letter or make a short video addressed to a local museum or theater informing them about Blue Star Museums or Blue Star Theatres. Students may choose to make a persuasive argument for why the museum or theater should participate in the program (make sure to check that they are not already involved!)
This TeachITCT.org activity is sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University.