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Teaching with Curated Collections

Teaching with Curated Collections

A curated collection of resources about specific topics in Minnesota and U.S. history.

Primary sources and other materials from the Minnesota Historical Society's collections are chosen with educators in mind. Feedback from classroom teachers has guided the creation of this portal.

Initial funding support for this project was from the Minnesota Civil War Commemoration Task Force and the MNHS World War I Initiatives.

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Guiding questions and activities

Each button below includes a list of relevant questions or activities based on the theme or skill you select, which you can narrow or broaden using the provided criteria.

Thank you to our classroom teachers who wrote many of these questions and activities: Tara Hupton and Stacey Olinger, Highview Middle School in New Brighton; and Eric Cameron, Northeast Metro ISD 916 in Mahtomedi.

Guiding questions by theme

Topic Category Grades

In what ways are the challenges people faced back then similar to those we face today? In what ways are they different?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

To what degree was war inevitable?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

How have the lives of social groups changed between then and now? How do you know?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8

In what ways might the events of the Civil War still impact the lives of African Americans today? Why?

Civil War African Americans 6-8, 9-12

In what ways is the Civil War/WWI conflict similar to conflicts in the United States (and the world) today?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

What are the consequences of government promoting nationalism and enforcing loyalty among their people?

WWI nativism, government 9-12

How has the issue of immigration changed or remained the same between the WWI era and today?

WWI nativism 6-8, 9-12

To what extent was World War I the most consequential event in 20th century American history?

WWI general 9-12

How do alliances between countries made in WWI still impact global relations today?

WWI government 6-8, 9-12

How have the contributions of women in war changed since WWI to today?

WWI women 6-8, 9-12

To what extent did WWI change the way the US government interacts with its people?

WWI government 9-12

What are the long term impacts of WWI on social, political, and economic life in the US? Which aspect of life did the war have the greatest impact?

WWI general 6-8, 9-12

To what degree did World War I unite or divide Americans?

WWI general 6-8, 9-12

How does the Treaty of Versailles still impact the world today?

WWI government 6-8, 9-12
Topic Category Grades

How were Americans impacted by the war? How were different social groups (women, American Indians, soldiers, African Americans, laborers, the upper class, etc.) impacted in different ways?

Civil War, WWI women, American Indians, African Americans, soldiers 6-8, 9-12

Why do different groups tell different versions of the same historical story?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

How did Americans living through the war define core American values like liberty and equality? How did the definition of those values change depending on the point of view and life experiences of the person?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

What did it mean to be a citizen in the United States between 1915 and 1925? How did that definition change when applied to women, immigrants, and American Indians? Why?

WWI women, American Indians, nativism 9-12

Which groups of Americans would have been most supportive of the war and why? Which would have been the least supportive and why?

WWI general 9-12

How did the varied regions (national/state, urban/rural, etc.) of the country view the war differently?

WWI general 6-8, 9-12

How did WWI change how Americans viewed the role of their nation in the world?

WWI general 9-12

To what extent is a person required to show loyalty to one's country during war?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

What were the pros and cons to US involvement in WWI? How was lending support for the war and declaring war different?

WWI general 6-8, 9-12

What were some pros and cons of the military draft?

WWI soldiers 6-8, 9-12

How effective was the Commission for Public Safety at overseeing Minnesota's war effort?

WWI general 6-8

What is more important during times of war - the government's responsibility to protect the country and its people, or to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals? Why?

WWI government 6-8, 9-12

What motivated African Americans to travel North? How did those motivations change before, during, and after the Civil War?

Civil War African Americans 6-8, 9-12

What challenges did women face on the homefront? How did they overcome those challenges?

Civil War, WWI homefront, women 6-8, 9-12

What roles did women play on the battlefield? How did the participation of women in the war effort impact the outcome of the war?

WWI women, battle 6-8, 9-12

What was the impact of the Civil War on American Indians in Minnesota? How did the war complicate their priorities during the period?

Civil War American Indians 6-8, 9-12

What challenges to their way of life did American Indians face during the WWI era and how did they resist those challenges?

WWI American Indians 6-8, 9-12

How would the family of a soldier (or nurse) experience the war differently than a family without a service member?

WWI soldiers, homefront 6-8, 9-12
Topic Category Grades

What was the role of women, African Americans, American Indians, and other social groups in the war?

Civil War, WWI women, African Americans, American Indians 6-8, 9-12

How were African Americans impacted by the outcome of the war? What actions did they take to bring that outcome about? What actions did they take in response to that outcome?

Civil War, WWI African Americans 6-8, 9-12

What was the social and legal status of African Americans in Minnesota? How did that status change before and after the war?

Civil War African Americans 6-8, 9-12

In what ways did abolitionists take action to make a change in their society?

Civil War abolition 6-8, 9-12

How did people take action to make a difference in their communities during and after the war? What was the impact of those actions?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Compare the arguments for and against Prohibition, suffrage, and patriotism. What are some common themes among these arguments? What do these arguments say about the deeper conflict about what it means to be American in this time period?

WWI prohibition, suffrage, nativism 9-12

In what ways did the war effort assist the passage of prohibition?

WWI prohibition 6-8, 9-12

How did WWI impact the way immigrants were treated? Were there any immigrant groups that were treated better or worse than others?

WWI nativism 6-8, 9-12

How did the role of women in the United States change politically, socially, and economically?

WWI women 6-8, 9-12

What sacrifices were homefront Americans asked to make in support of the war effort?

WWI homefront 6-8

How did American Indians contribute to the war effort? How did the war complicate their interests on the homefront?

WWI American Indians, homefront 6-8, 9-12
Topic Category Grades

How would the family of a soldier (or nurse) experience the war differently than a family without a service member?

WWI soldiers, homefront 6-8, 9-12

How and why might the "average wartime experience" change across different regions of the United States?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

In what ways was the experience of an American soldier fighting in WWI different from that of American soldiers in previous wars?

WWI soldiers 9-12

How did the interactions between the American people and their government change from the pre- to the post-war years?

Civil War, WWI government 9-12

How did the interactions between the American people and non-profit/advocacy groups (i.e. Red Cross, Belgian Relief Fund, WCTU, etc.) change from the pre- to the post-war years?

WWI Red Cross 6-8, 9-12

How effective were the methods the US government used to acquire war support from its citizens?

WWI government 6-8

How did the experience of an African American soldier differ from that of a White solder?

Civil War, WWI African Americans 6-8

What wartime tactics and technology played the greatest role in the outcome of the war?

Civil War, WWI weapons, battle 6-8

In what ways did Minnesota civilians and businesses contribute to WWI?

WWI general 6-8

What was the impact of the Spanish flu during WWI?

WWI medical 6-8

How were Americans impacted by the war? How were different social groups (women, American Indians, soldiers, African Americans, laborers, the upper class, etc.) impacted in different ways?

Civil War, WWI women, American Indians, African Americans, soldiers 6-8, 9-12

What challenges did people face during the war? How were those challenges overcome (or not)?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Why did the people of Minnesota join the war effort? What was in it for them?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8

What is the relationship between the Civil War and the US-Dakota War of 1862?

Civil War American Indians 6-8

What motivated African Americans to travel North? How did those motivations change before, during, and after the Civil War?

Civil War African Americans 6-8, 9-12

What challenges did women face on the homefront? How did they overcome those challenges?

Civil War, WWI homefront, women 6-8, 9-12

What roles did women play on the battlefield? How did the participation of women in the war effort impact the outcome of the war?

WWI women, battle 6-8, 9-12

What was the impact of the Civil War on American Indians in Minnesota? How did the war complicate their priorities during the period?

Civil War American Indians 6-8, 9-12

What challenges to their way of life did American Indians face during the WWI era and how did they resist those challenges?

WWI American Indians 6-8, 9-12

To what extent did one's economic status have an affect on the way WWI impacted their life?

WWI general 9-12

Activities by skills

Topic Category Grades

Direct students to explore the portal and select a perspective/tag they find interesting. Then, have students write a diary, letter, or historical narrative from that perspective, using details from the sources.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Select 5-7 sources from the portal and separate the contextual description from the source. Direct students to match the source to its contextual description, practicing their analysis skills and deductive reasoning. Then, based on the theme of the sources you select, direct students to answer an appropriate guiding question.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Instruct students to select a "focus item/person" from the portal. Then, make a collage of items that are could be related to their "focus item/person" using other items in the portal. Students should write an "Artist's statement" explaining the relationship between their focus item/person and the rest of the sources they selected and summarize the story the collage tells about life during the war.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Have students come up with categories to organize MNHS portal artifacts. Then, let them explore the portal and see if they were right. Would there be other categories they'd add or ones they thought were unnecessary? OR Have students look at the portal first, exploring the categories already provided. Then have students discuss what category they would create using items already in the portal that is not currently listed. What items from the portal would they tag with their new category?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Direct students to choose one item (not a photo of a person). They should write 5-7 sentence explanations of the context of that item in the greater story of the war and the American story.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Have students identify two items in the portal that seem to be opposites. Have them create a poster explaining their choice and how they show opposing views. Students will describe the context of the items, what was going on in America or the world that led to the creation of these two items that oppose one another.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Choose one item (not a photograph or a person). Write a 5-7 sentence explanation of the context of that item in the greater American story.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Direct students to find an image or item that surprises them in some way. Study the image, conduct research, and learn about the image. In 4-6 sentences, students explain their image/item, what surprised them, and what they learned about it that explains the context heind the surprise.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Select women of WWI in the portal and have students list the different ways women were supporting the war effort. Extension: have students choose one women's organization to research and report on.

WWI women 6-8

Have students identify one interesting person from the portal, read about them, and do additional research if necessary. Write one paragraph summarizing their contributions during WWI and how they influenced others.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8

Explore the WWI poster and homefront tags of the portal. Using the sources collected under these tags, students write a letter to a soldier "over there" explaining life on the homefront.

WWI homefront 6-8

Look at the soldiers and camp life tags of the portal, paying particular attention to the items soldiers had at the front. Have students organize the items into categories and explain why they organized them that way.

Civil War, WWI soldiers, camp life 6-8

Provide students with a set of 5-7 curated items from the portal; tell students that these 5-7 items will make a mini "pop-up" exhibit to be displayed at a local library. Assign students to write an exhibit rationale and summary, then make a brochure promoting the exhibit.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Select a set of images that show what life was like for a particular group of people (women, soldiers, nurses, families, African Americans, immigrants, etc.) Ask students to draw connections between the items you chose and write a journal entry from the perspective of a person living in this era. Journal entry should include specific details related to the images selected.

Civil War, WWI African Americans, American Indians, children, soldiers, women 9-12

Show students the "More Ballots Less Bullets" suffrage banner. Ask students to write an argument on whether this banner is more in support of expanding voting rights or more in opposition to the war.

WWI suffrage, women 9-12

Provide students with an essential question or statement about the era and assign students to curate a set of 5-7 items that relate to the question/statement. Then, as a class, students use democratic processes to determine which items will ultimately be included in the set.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Select letters from the portal. Ask students to read the letters and discuss the context in which they were written. Who was writing to whom, and what would both parties be experiencing while writing or reading the letter? What was said in the letter, and what was left unsaid?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Let students explore any tag on the portal. As they explore the contents, have them describe each item in one or two words. Then have them create a word cloud with those words on Wordle to find themes within the category.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8
Topic Category Grades

Look at the Prohibition themed items in the WWI portal. Ask students to discuss how similar arguments might be made and how propaganda was used to argue for and against prohibition during this era compared to the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana today.

WWI prohibition 9-12

Select a set of items from the portal that are related to communication, either between individuals or mass (letters, posters, buttons, etc.). Ask students how these items reflect the communication methods of the time and determine if they were effective ways to communicate. Then, ask students if those same methods would be effective ways to communicate a similar message today. What are some equivalent contemporary forms of communication, mass or individual?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Assign students a social movement topic (prohibition, women's suffrage, etc.) and provide them with the following prompt: Look at items in the portal for your topic and imagine for a moment that the reform was unsuccessful. Predict what subsequent eras would be like had that reform not been made. Would we have made that reform at some point or would it still be a concern?

Civil War, WWI prohibition, suffrage, abolition, nativism 9-12

Using the items in the portal, describe what daily life would have been like for an American soldier in WWI. Based on the items in the portal, students create a chart comparing how would the soldiers' experience be similar or different to those who fought in the (pick 1) Spanish-American War, the US-Dakota War, or the Civil War.

WWI soldiers, camp life 9-12

Direct students to find a particular person highlighted in the portal and conduct additional research on that person. Then, write an obituary about that person’s life, challenges, and accomplishments.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Ask students to choose a specific object from the portal. Assign students to complete additional research on their chosen object. Students use their research to write a newspaper column explaining the new invention or innovation of this object. A high-quality article will include who, what, when, where, why, how, and the potential impact of the object on life at the time.

Civil War, WWI industry, weapons, medical 9-12

Look through the artifact collection from WWI and have students choose an item that is an older version of something we have today. Have them create a chart comparing the item they found with the modern version. Extension: Students write a paragraph explaining how life may have been different during WWI if this item was the modern version for it. OR Students write a paragraph explaining how life today would be different if the item hadn’t changed and was the exact same as it was during WWI.

WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Take a look at the picture of the Statue of Germania being removed from a building outside of St. Paul. Discuss possible reasons (both pro and con) for the removal of that statue. Then, have students compare the removal of the statue to similar events today (ex. renaming of Ramsey Middle School to Justice Page Middle School, removing the confederate flag, etc.).

WWI nativism 6-8, 9-12

Take a look at the American Red Cross Influenza Mask Bundles and Bag as a starting place to look at health epidemics throughout history. Compare epidemics like Ebola, MARS, Mumps with the Spanish Flu. Take a look at reasons for epidemics; preparation, prevention, and treatment; and outcomes. How have things changed since the Spanish Flu and how are they similar?

WWI Red Cross, medical 6-8

Using the African American tag on the portal, direct students to analyze the sources to define the legal status of African Americans before and after the Civil War in Minnesota. Plot changes to legal status on a 2-D timeline, showing the changes by having the x-axis measure time and the y-axis measure relative level of legal self-determination and choice for the African American community.

Civil War African Americans 9-12

Instruct students to make a chart comparing the experiences of soldiers during the war to the experiences of soldiers today. How were they impacted differently by combat? In what ways do their experiences remain the same?

Civil War, WWI soldiers 6-8

Language and terminology has changed over time. Select a source from the portal with text and transcribe it into the current day vernacular. Decide: would this be an effective piece of evidence to convince a contemporary person of the argument being made?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Have students create a timeline of all or part of the war period, using sources from the portal to illustrate the impact of events on people. Timelines could be created on paper or on an app like Sutori.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8
Topic Category Grades

Direct students to find a particular person highlighted in the portal and conduct additional research on that person. Then, write an obituary about that person’s life, challenges, and accomplishments.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Have students find evidence in the portal that explains what happened if you were not in full support of the war effort.

Civil War, WWI homefront 6-8

Have students look at the money tag on the portal, paying particular attention to the language and images associated with liberty bonds. Then have students explain how spending money would have been related to patriotism during WWI.

WWI money 6-8

Take a look at the image of Immigrants Taking Oath of Citizenship. Then, in partners, have students search through the portal looking for reasons why Americanization efforts increased during WWI.

WWI nativism 6-8

Show students the German Military Field Telephone and discuss the impact of improved technology on war. Have them explore the collections looking for other examples of war technology and explaining their impact.

WWI weapons, industry 6-8

Students choose an image that shows an item, person, or event that they believe to be extremely influential on the WWI era. They will explain their reasoning for their selections. Then, explain how the WWI era would have been different if the item or person they chose did not exist. How might the era and/or history have been different?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

In November, 1916, President Wilson won reelection under the campaign slogan “He kept us out of war!” In April, 1917, Congress declared war on Germany. Ask students to select items from the portal that justify the shift from isolation to intervention.

WWI government 9-12

Divide students into groups and have them narrow sources using the soldier tag on the portal to research different aspects of soldier life (battle training, uniform and gear, comradery, homesickness, food, battle, medical care, etc.) You may want to narrow your search further by selecting either the Civil War or WWI. Using their analysis of the sources, each group creates a station with a brief “simulation” to represent their topic. Afterwards, students reflect on the challenges soldiers faced and how they overcame those challenges.

Civil War, WWI soldier 6-8, 9-12

Provide the students with the following dates and events, ask them to use the portal to justify the chronological order in which the events occurred. In other words, why did the following events happen in the order below instead of a different order?

  • US declares Neutrality (August 4, 1914)
  • US declares war on Germany, enters WWI (April 6, 1917)
  • 18th Amendment (Prohibition) was ratified (January 16, 1919)
  • 19th Amendment (Women’s Suffrage) was ratified (August 18, 1920)
WWI general 9-12

Students find two items in the portal that have a cause/effect relationship and have them explain the importance of this event/person/etc to the war effort on a cause/effect graphic organizer.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Select 5-7 sources from the portal and separate them from the contextual description. Using printed copies of the sources or using the National Archives’ Finding a Sequence tool, have students place the sources in chronological order. Direct students to explain why each source is placed in the order they selected, using cause and effect relationships to justify their choices.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Select a set of sources from the portal and have students map the locations each source originated on paper or on ARC-GIS. Discuss how the physical environment may have impacted the source author’s experience. What challenges did the physical environment present? How did people overcome those challenges?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12
Topic Category Grades

Provide students with a set of 5-7 curated items from the portal; tell students that these 5-7 items will make a mini "pop-up" exhibit to be displayed at a local library. Assign students to write an exhibit rationale and summary, then make a brochure promoting the exhibit.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Direct students to find a particular person highlighted in the portal and conduct additional research on that person. Then, write an obituary about that person’s life, challenges, and accomplishments.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Instruct students to make a chart comparing the experiences of soldiers during the war to the experiences of soldiers today. How were they impacted differently by combat? In what ways do their experiences remain the same?

Civil War, WWI soldiers 6-8

Assign students or pairs of students either “pro-war” or “anti-war” and have them search the portal for historical evidence that shows their point of view. As they do this, have them make a list of why people may have supported or not support the war effort.

WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Using the American Indian collection have students look for evidence of assimilation in the collection and evidence of traditional Ojibwe culture. Have them report their findings with the class.

WWI American Indians 6-8

Take a look at all of the items in the collection that belonged to Ezra Curry. Have students write a letter home or journal entry describing a typical morning on the front. Be sure to include the importance of the gear that he was provided in order to do his job effectively.

WWI soldiers, camp life 6-8

Provide students with a set of 5-7 artifacts from the portal. Ask students to figure out how the items are related.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8

Language and terminology has changed over time. Select a source from the portal with text and transcribe it into the current day vernacular. Decide: would this be an effective piece of evidence to convince a contemporary person of the argument being made?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Select a curated set of items or clothing worn by soldiers and nurses. Ask students to depict the experience of a person at war wearing the clothing or using the items selected. (extension question: based on the items or clothing selected, how might the experience of soldiers and nurses be different?)

Civil War, WWI soldiers, camp life, women 9-12

Direct students to the poster collection and find three propaganda posters used during WWI. Have students analyze each poster using the Propaganda Poster Analysis google form as a guide.

WWI homefront 6-8

Assign students to read about 4-Minute Men during WWI. Direct students to select and reinterpret a propaganda poster from the portal, transforming it from a visual image to a speech that might be given by a 4-minute man. Students should write and perform the speech, as well as state where the speech would have be given, their target audience, and the reason for their choices.

WWI general 9-12

Have students use the “Category” filter tool to select a topic of political debate, such as prohibition, women’s suffrage, abolition etc. Students should select the image that they believe would be most convincing to a person during this time period and create a tweet to explain their artifact and perspective using the twitter challenge template. Do this for both sides of the political debate.

Civil War, WWI prohibition, suffrage, abolition, nativism 6-8, 9-12

Define and explain the word assimilation and the assimilation policy towards American Indians at the turn of the century. Have students explore the American Indian tag on the WWI portal and record evidence of ways American Indians were forced to assimilate and ways they resisted assimilation. Discuss the challenges American Indians faced to preserve their culture during this period and how they resisted those challenges, based on the evidence students collected.

WWI American Indians 9-12

Direct students to select and compare two sources with different points of view on the conflict, making a chart to organize their comparisons. On what do they agree and what do they disagree? Why might they see the same events differently? What about the experience and background of the source creators is likely influencing their perspective?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Have students select a set of sources they are interested in and analyze the sources. Direct them to use their analysis of these sources to create the front page of a newspaper from the time (they’ll use the sources they selected to decide on a date that makes sense). Synthesizing events from the war and the perspectives analyzed on the portal, they will report on the events of both the warfront and homefront.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Select a set of sources from the soldier perspective, using the soldier tag and narrowing by war era. Direct students to read and analyze the sources and use their analysis to write an argument about why soldiers were motivated to fight.

Civil War, WWI soldiers 9-12

“America First” was a popular slogan during the WWI era. Select items that support an “America First” perspective and assign students to use the portal to find a piece of evidence to counter each item you selected. Students should provide a brief rationale for their choices.

WWI government, nativism 9-12

With a partner, students select a topic and choose opposite sides of the issue. They select 3-5 items in the portal to support their side of the topic and write a 2-3 paragraph persuasive essay using their chosen items as supports.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Using the American Indian tag on the portal, direct students to compare the impact of the US-Dakota War of 1862 on Minnesotans to the Civil War’s impact. Then, have them write an argument using the sources as evidence to prove which conflict was more significant in Minnesota history. Do a 4-corners activity to debate the question as a large group.

Civil War American Indians 6-8
Topic Category Grades

Show students the "More Ballots Less Bullets" suffrage banner. Ask students to write an argument on whether this banner is more in support of expanding voting rights or more in opposition to the war.

WWI suffrage, women 9-12

Have students look through the portal collection for evidence supporting the idea that life for immigrants was tough during WWI. They should be prepared to share and explain their evidence found with peers.

WWI nativism 6-8

Using the question “During times of war, what do you think is more important - the government’s responsibility to protect the country and its people, or to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals?”, have students look through portal to find evidence from the war to support their opinion. (Extension activity: hold a class or small group debate, OR assign students to make a WWI era propaganda poster using their opinion and evidence)

Civil War, WWI government 6-8, 9-12

Using the image of the Office for the Employment of Veterans Who are Disabled, the Plaster Bear, and Red Cross Convalescent House as a starting point, have students respond to the question “How did WWI impact soldier’s lives far beyond the battlefield?”

WWI soldiers, Red Cross 6-8

Have students explore the Red Cross portion of the portal as they look for examples and evidence to support the statement: “The Red Cross played a vital role during WWI both on the homefront and the battlefield.”

WWI Red Cross, homefront, medical, soldiers 6-8

Provide groups of students with a statement that was debatable at the time (Prohibition is necessary for our country to thrive, the Confederacy had the right to secede, etc). Different groups are assigned a side to the debate. Groups research their topic, organize ideas and write out their argument, citing evidence from the portal to support their argument. Extension: have them orally present their arguments in a formal class debate.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8

Have students select a set of sources they are interested in and analyze the sources. Direct them to use their analysis of these sources to create the front page of a newspaper from the time (they’ll use the sources they selected to decide on a date that makes sense). Synthesizing events from the war and the perspectives analyzed on the portal, they will report on the events of both the warfront and homefront.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Select a set of sources from the soldier perspective, using the soldier tag and narrowing by war era. Direct students to read and analyze the sources and use their analysis to write an argument about why soldiers were motivated to fight.

Civil War, WWI soldiers 9-12

“America First” was a popular slogan during the WWI era. Select items that support an “America First” perspective and assign students to use the portal to find a piece of evidence to counter each item you selected. Students should provide a brief rationale for their choices.

WWI government, nativism 9-12

Read the following prompt to students: “In April, 1917, Congress voted by a margin of 455-56 to declare war on Germany, officially entering the United States in what is today known as WWI.” Use the portal category search to view items from the “Nativism” and “Homefront” categories. Based on what you see here, does it seems that the public was as unified in support of entering the war as was Congress? (Extension question: are there other categories that could also shed light on this prompt?)

WWI nativism, homefront 9-12

With a partner, students select a topic and choose opposite sides of the issue. They select 3-5 items in the portal to support their side of the topic and write a 2-3 paragraph persuasive essay using their chosen items as supports.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Prompt: “The United States SHOULD/SHOULD NOT get involved in foreign wars.” Students choose a side of the previous statement, and find evidence from the portal to support their view. They write a short essay synthesizing the items from the portal that they selected as evidence and explaining how those items support their chosen stance.

WWI government 9-12

Using the American Indian tag on the portal, direct students to compare the impact of the US-Dakota War of 1862 on Minnesotans to the Civil War’s impact. Then, have them write an argument using the sources as evidence to prove which conflict was more significant in Minnesota history. Do a 4-corners activity to debate the question as a large group.

Civil War American Indians 6-8

Students select a set of sources and create a fake Twitter feed, Snapchat, or Instagram account based on the experience of an American during the war. (Hint: focus on a specific issue or specific person’s experience).

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Choose a set of 3-4 images that represent one viewpoint, and select 3-4 images that represent an opposing viewpoint. Use a fake Facebook or Twitter template to create an argument between two (real or fictional) people debating and arguing over the topic of the selected images.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12
Topic Category Grades

Have students use the “Category” filter tool to select a topic of political debate, such as prohibition, women’s suffrage, abolition etc. Students should select the image that they believe would be most convincing to a person during this time period and create a tweet to explain their artifact and perspective using the twitter challenge template. Do this for both sides of the political debate.

Civil War, WWI prohibition, suffrage, abolition, nativism 6-8, 9-12

Direct students to explore the portal and select a person or perspective they find interesting, finding 3-5 sources that support that perspective. If one specific person does not provide a student with enough evidence, have that student develop a character based on the sources they can find about people who belong to the same social group. Then, place students in pairs and have them write an exchange of letters between the two people, using a set of guiding questions/scenarios to prompt their letters.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Select a set of documents from the portal using the soldier and home front tags. Then, have students compare the soldier experience to the home front experience. What challenges did each encounter and how did people address those challenges?

Civil War, WWI soldier, homefront 6-8

Define and explain the word assimilation and the assimilation policy towards American Indians at the turn of the century. Have students explore the American Indian tag on the WWI portal and record evidence of ways American Indians were forced to assimilate and ways they resisted assimilation. Discuss the challenges American Indians faced to preserve their culture during this period and how they resisted those challenges, based on the evidence students collected.

WWI American Indians 9-12

Direct students to select and compare two sources with different points of view on the conflict, making a chart to organize their comparisons. On what do they agree and what do they disagree? Why might they see the same events differently? What about the experience and background of the source creators is likely influencing their perspective?

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Select two items that depict the same topic from different perspectives. Have students pair up and explain how are they similar/different. Why and how might the ‘authors’ view the topic differently? Who is the intended ‘audience’ and how might they perceive the items?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Choose an advertisement or propaganda poster. Direct students to write a brief biography of a person who would support the cause represented in the item chosen.

WWI general 9-12

Using the suffrage collection, have students describe why some Americans were for and others were against suffrage, using this evidence to support their answers.

WWI suffrage, women 6-8

View the soldier and camp life collections with students and have students write a letter home (or a diary entry) as if they were a soldier during WWI. Research how the experience was different for African American soldiers and write another letter as an African American soldier writing home.

WWI soldier, camp life, African Americans 6-8

Using the food category of the portal, split students into five different groups with each group getting one artifact (bucket, utensils, bottle, poster, flour bag). Have each group read more about their artifact and share their learning with the class. After all five artifacts have been shared, engage in a short discussion about other things (like food) that could have meant different things to different people during the war (ex. Music > bugles for the cavalry, anti-war and pro-war music back home, destruction of churches and other things known for music).

WWI food 6-8

Choose a set of 3-4 images that represent one viewpoint, and select 3-4 images that represent an opposing viewpoint. Use a fake Facebook or Twitter template to create an argument between two (real or fictional) people debating and arguing over the topic of the selected images.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Pair students and direct them to explore the portal and select two different perspectives. Using their analysis of the sources, have students write Poem for Two Voices using sentence stems or prompts given. Each student should be in charge of one perspective. As a large group, have students share their Poem for Two Voices, taking turns reading each line to show contrast between the selected perspectives.

Civil War, WWI general 6-8, 9-12

Curate a set of images that relate to the Immigrants and Native Americans in the United States during WWI. Ask students to compare the domestic experiences of these two groups of people. How were they included/excluded from society? How was their experience of the war similar to and different from the majority population?

WWI American Indians, nativism 9-12

Select letters from the portal. Ask students to read the letters and discuss the context in which they were written. Who was writing to whom, and what would both parties be experiencing while writing or reading the letter? What was said in the letter, and what was left unsaid?

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Direct students to explore the portal and find sources that represent at least three different perspectives on the war. Using their analysis of these perspectives, direct students to rewrite the lyrics to a popular song of their choice so that the song is about a wartime issue. The song should clearly convey three separate perspectives/experiences of people affected by the war.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Provide students with a list of 100 key individuals depicted in David Geister’s WWI mural. Students are to write and create a brief biography of the person’s life and their impact on the WWI era (or the era’s impact on the person). Then, assign students to view the WWI portal and select items that would align with their chosen person’s experience, explain why those items were chosen.

WWI general, African Americans, American Indians, women 9-12

Select a grouping of sources that support a political or moral viewpoint. Ask students to create a fake facebook (or other social media) profile of a person who would support the cause presented in the set of images.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12

Assign students (or have them choose) to research a particular perspective on the portal using the tags. Using their analysis of the sources, students represent their assigned perspective in a Cafe Conversations activity, where students represent their perspective and answer questions about the perspectives their classmates researched. Debrief how the war impacted Americans as a large group.

Civil War, WWI general 9-12