Study various forms of propaganda
- Internet access
- Video: Section 4, “The U.S. Enters the War”
- Propaganda: How America “Sold” WWI Activity Sheet
- German Americans in WWI Activity Sheet
- Answer key
- Make copies of the Propaganda: How America “Sold” WWI Activity Sheet for your class.
Step 1: Discuss U.S. entry into the war. After a period of declared neutrality, the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915, Germany's resumption of unrestricted submarine warfare, and publication of the Zimmermann Telegram, which revealed a secret alliance between Germany and Mexico, finally pushed the United States to declare war on April 6, 1917. In 1914, the U.S. Army numbered some 135,000 men. The Selective Service Act of 1917 dramatically increased the number to 4 million by the war’s end.
Step 2: Watch Section 4 of the video at scholastic.com/thegreatwar and discuss war propaganda and patriotic sentiment with students. Include the following topics: the Committee on Public Information, the Four Minute Men, attacks on anti-war activists. Ask:
How did U.S. citizens support the war effort once the country declared war?
What role did propaganda play?
Step 3: Discuss the negative aspects of patriotism, including mistreatment of German Americans. Ask:
How did extreme patriotic sentiment lead to violence and persecution?
Step 4: Explain that students will build a glossary of terms while researching tools of propaganda during the war. Provide the following research topics: Propaganda posters and art, including Uncle Sam, use of new celebrity culture and media to sell the war, patriotic music, books, and film. While they research, instruct them to create a document that defines important terms in a glossary format.
Step 5: Hand out the Propaganda: How America “Sold” WWI Activity Sheet and have students write speeches.