Library of Congress


The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > The Spanish-American War in Motion Pictures

Back to Collection Connections

Wreck of the U.S.S. Maine, June 7th, 1911

[Detail] Wreck of the U.S.S. Maine, June 7th, 1911

Critical Thinking

Chronological Thinking

This collection focuses on the events of the Spanish-American War and the subsequent Philippine Revolution from 1898 to 1901. The chronology is emphasized in the Special Presentation The Motion Picture Camera Goes to War and in The World of 1898, which includes an overall chronology of the war, as well as separate chronologies by country (Cuba, The Philippines and Guam, Puerto Rico, and Spain). Students can use these films to examine how war may have changed over time. They may answer questions such as:

  • How were the soldiers dressed compared to soldiers today?
  • What kind of fighting was performed?
  • What kind of coverage do war events receive from the media today as opposed to the turn of the century?


Students can compare actuality films (films taken of real events as they occur) with the reenactment films. Some actualities are U.S. Troops Landing at Daiquiri, Cuba, and Packing Ammunition on Mules, Cuba. An example of a reenactment is Skirmish of Rough Riders.

Students might answer questions such as:

  • Can you tell the two types of film apart?
  • What might indicate to you that the film is a recreation of an event rather than the actual event?
  • Why might it be necessary to recreate an event for the camera?
Skirmish of Rough Riders

Skirmish of Rough Riders, June 10, 1899.

The motion picture camera brought home images of the everyday activities of soldiers that made it possible to envision what it was like to be a soldier in the war, from the early enthusiasm of preparing for war (Go to Topical Title List, and scroll down to "Films of Military Preparations") to the hard work performed later in the midst of war (Troops Making Military Road in Front of Santiago).

Search on troops and soldiers to find more films regarding work life in wartime. What tasks were expected from a soldier during this war?


Analysis and Interpretation

Students can do further research on the issue of imperialism and see if films such as Raising Old Glory over Morro Castle or Filipinos Retreat from Trenches strengthen the notion of U.S. dominance over Cuba and the Philippines.

Students can also look for more information regarding on the African American troops throughout history and analyze the role of African American soldiers in the army during the Spanish-American War in films such as 25th Infantry and Colored Troops Disembarking.

Students can answer questions such as:

  • Who led the soldiers?
  • Were the regiments integrated?

Ask students to find several newspaper articles of the period covering African American troops in the Spanish-American War. Then ask students to write their own article from the point of view of a journalist of that period.

Historical Issue Analysis and Decision Making

The World of 1898 includes a historical overview of the war from the perspective of events in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Spain. Students can analyze the different sides of the war and determine their own opinions about the issues the war presented and the consequences of the actions taken by the United States. Students can hold a debate on the issues representing the different countries involved.


This collection affords an excellent opportunity for the student to conduct further research into the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Revolution. Students can focus on different topics, such as the Naval War , the Philippine Revolution, Spanish occupation of Cuba, and Roosevelt's Rough Riders, and use the films as an added resource. Useful information on topics pertaining to the war and the Philippine Revolution can be found in the Subject Index to The World of 1898, including brief biographies for figures such as George Dewey, Theodore Roosevelt, and Emilio Aguinaldo.