This lesson will introduce you to the resources of American Memory. American Memory consists of more than 100 collections of digitized documents, photographs, recorded sound, moving pictures, and text from the Library of Congress. You can browse a listing of all collections and use the search tool to locate primary source material. Do not think of American Memory as an encyclopedia or textbook as it is more like a museum or archive with some unique resources or treasures to be found.
You will view several "Today in History" pages that focus on World War I events. How do you search for relevant primary source material? How can a photograph, newspaper article, song, or speech enrich your understanding of the Great War?
- Today in History has an archive search feature to locate material by full text, specific day, or month. Searching for "World War I" yields the following key pages:
- June 28, 1914. Archduke Ferdinand is assassinated.
- May 7, 1915. German submarine sinks Lusitania. American lives lost.
- April 6, 1917. The United States enters World War I.
- September 12, 1918. 1st American Expeditionary Forces offensive.
- November 11, 1918. Allied powers sign armistice.
- July 15, 1948. John J. Pershing, brilliant WWI-military commander dies.
- June 28, 1914 is an important date usually associated with the start of World War I. Browse the page.
- Look closely at the photograph of Ypres Belgium.
- Study this photograph using the Primary Source Analysis tool.
- Click on the link to Taking the Long View: Panoramic Photographs.
- You can search for other WWI-era photos in this collection by using keyword search, typing in "world war 1914-1918."
- The subject index browse feature suggests many useful subheadings under World War, 1914-1918.
- June 28, 1914 also has some interesting World War I-era sheet music.
- July 15, 1948 provides important background material on General Pershing.
- Study this Anecdote of General Jack Pershing using the Primary Source Analysis Tool.
- Browse the collection The African American Experience in Ohio.
- It is possible to search for other WWI-era articles in this collection by using keyword search, typing in world war 1914-1918 and setting pull down menu to match all words. Add an additional keyword such as lynching.
- July 15, 1948 also has a link to Pershing's speech From the battle fields of France. Review this speech using the Primary Source Analysis Tool. You will be able to examine additional speeches from American Leaders Speak: Recordings from World War I and the 1920 Election in the next lesson.
- April 6, 1917 concludes our survey of World War I related pages in Today in History.
- Listen to the audio recording of Over There performed by Billy Murray in 1917, located in a special presentation of American Variety Stage.
- Examine a sample copy of sheet music for Over There.
- Other sheet music versions of this song can be found in Historic American Sheet Music.
- For homework, you may choose to analyze either the audio recording of Over There or one of the sheet music versions using the Primary Source Analysis Tool.
Actual sound recordings from the World War I era are available to us through American Leaders Speak. The Library of Congress holds fifty-nine recordings of speeches by U.S. leaders at the turn of the century. The speeches focus on issues and events surrounding the war and the subsequent presidential election of 1920.
- The American Leaders Speak collection is made up of recordings from The Nation's Forum. The collection represents an effort to preserve the voices of prominent Americans. In most cases, these audio files are the only surviving recordings of a speaker. The Department of State's Committee on Public Information (a governmental propaganda ministry) endorsed the Nation's Forum.
- The Gallery of World War I Speakers allows you to link to a particular speech and display the audio file and text. Listen to Franklin K. Lane's The Nation in Arms. This speech will be further studied in class using the Primary Source Analysis Tool.
- You will be assigned a speech to analyze for homework using the Primary Source Analysis Tool. There are eighteen speeches in the gallery. The speeches of Pershing and Lane (already analyzed by the class) will not be assigned to individual students.
In this lesson, you will use your familiarity with American Memory and prior knowledge of WWI to create two WWI-era newspapers each with an opposing viewpoint regarding American involvement in the war effort.
Each member of the class is serving on the staff of a World War I-era newspaper. One newspaper supports the war, the other paper opposes the war. If you are a reporter, it is your job to complete the sequence of tasks listed below. Additional instructions for just the publisher and editorial board are given in italics.
- Check with the Publisher of your particular newspaper and receive your assignment.
- View the newspaper Department Assignments page and note your duties and responsibilities.
- Go to the Newswire page of suggested American Memory links. Begin your research and be ready to report back on two potential sources to use for the basis of your newspaper article. Analyze these two sources by means of the Primary Source Analysis Tool.
- Share your initial findings when the Publisher reconvenes your newspaper staff. Discuss the links which you explored via the Newswire and analyzed via the Primary Source Analysis Tool.
- Publisher and Editorial Board meet to determine specific topic assignments for reporters. The assignments for the Photographic and Print Division are coordinated with the stories being covered by the reporting staff.
- Study the Newspaper Guidelines. Develop one particular article in depth as directed by your Publisher. Conduct additional research using Student Resources.
- Submit a rough draft of your article to the Publisher and Editorial Board for review.
- Publisher and Editorial Board prepare comments, suggestions for revision.
- Rewrite, polish and fine tune your article or photograph or print, following the feedback supplied to you by the Publisher and editorial staff.
- The Editorial Board is directed by the Publisher to produce a final version of each newspaper and to distribute copies to the entire class.
- Read the opposing viewpoint newspaper. Evaluate the other paper. The evaluation process is done at the departmental level. In other words, if you are a Mobilization Unit reporter on one paper, you review the work of a mobilization reporter on the other paper.
- Join in a general question and answer session and voice your concerns to the Publisher or Editorial Board. Engage in a discussion of the essential questions.
- What can be learned about the American character from the manner by which the United States mobilized, prepared, and participated in a world war?
- Were the political and military goals of the Great War worth the staggering loss of human life and social disruption?
- How does the World War of 1914-1918 validate or contradict our feelings of patriotism and reinforce or tear down our pride and gratitude as Americans?
- How does the unfolding of World War I foreshadow the role of the United States as a prominent world power of the twentieth century?