Teaching WWII with Primary Sources
This curriculum tool was created with two goals in mind. The first goal is the basis for everything we do at EIU TPS, to familiarize students and teachers with Library of Congress digitized primary sources and collections and guide their use in inquiry-based research techniques. Interpreting historical documents, photos, map, posters, letters, music sheets and more help students gain a better understanding of history as the rich tapestry that it is, rather than a series of facts, dates, names and events.
The second is to help students connect on a personal level with the events, people, places and difficult conditions faced by American families, looking closely at some from Illinois, during World War II.
This booklet contains four sections:
1. Primary Sources in the Classroom
2. Primary Sources and Analysis Tools
3. Library of Congress WWII Resources
4. Library of Congress Overview
Download the PDF of the Booklet
The Library of Congress has partnered with filmmaker Ken Burns and PBS on The War. This much anticipated documentary will be a valuable resource for educators who introduce students to this epic period in United States history. Educators who are alumni of the EIU Teaching with Primary Sources and Adventure of the American Mind programs have experienced the compelling collections of the Veteran’s History Project and are aware of the power of personal connections in teaching through building background knowledge or helping students realize the foundation of information they already possess.
“The War: Stories from Central Illinois” is a collection of stories told by the people who lived WWII, on the battlefront and the home front. WEIU-TV sent out an open invitation to any WWII veteran, spouse or children of veterans to tell their stories. In April of 2007, they we invited to the WEIU-TV studios to tell their personal accounts of the war.
Ken Burns and his colleagues filmed original interview material for The War. This VHP Web feature offers you a chance to experience some of the events depicted in The War, from the attack on Pearl Harbor to V-E and V-J Day, through additional interviews--as well as letters, diaries, and memoirs--found in the Veterans History Project archives. We’ve outlined topics covered in each of the seven episodes of The War. Highlighted topics are linked to lists of veterans from our archives who participated in those events. The contents of each collection featured in this Viewers Companion may be accessed online. These lists of World War II veterans represent a small sample of our collections from that war.
Go to the VHP Companion web site
Spotlight on Central Illinois
There were nearly 987,000 men and women from the state of Illinois that served during World War II of these 22,000 died to preserve our freedom.
In the Veterans History Project a section of the American Folklife Center, you can hear audio, see pictures and sometimes video of those who served our country during the war. You can read letters from soldiers to their sweethearts, you can listen to POW's talk about their experiences as a prisoner of war. In this collection you can find soldiers who served from all over Illinois. Some from as close as Danville, Quincy, Springfield and Hillsboro.
World War II is the topic of the April 1995 edition of "Illinois History" a magazine for young people. In this issue you can read about the USO in Mattoon, women's baseball in Illinois during World War II and Camp Ellis, an Army base in Central Illinois that housed some 5,000 POW's.
WEIU-TV at Eastern Illinois University presented "The War-Stories from Central Illinois." Eight individuals from Central Illinois share their personal experiences from World War II. They shared their stories from the soldier on the battlefield to the loved-ones waiting at home.
"But there is one front and one battle where everyone in the United States-every man, woman, and child - is in action...That front is right here at home, in our daily lives" Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1942
American Memory Collections
After the Day of Infamy Man on the Street Interviews Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor More than 200 individuals participated in over 12 hours of recordings of their thoughts and opinions in the days and weeks following the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In January and February of 1942 other interviews were recorded. Both collections of recordings give the "man on the street's" opinion of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and of World War II. Special Presentations: Making and Maintaining the Original Recordings
America from the Great Depression to WWII The images in the Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Collection are among the most famous documentary photographs ever produced. Created by a group of U.S. government photographers, the images show Americans in every part of the nation. In later years, the photographers turned their attention to the mobilization effort for World War II. The core of the collection consists of about 164,000 black-and-white photographs. Special Presentations: Documenting America: Photographers on Assignment , Selected FSA Images: Popular Requests , Selected FSA Images: Staff Selections , Portrait Sampler of FSA Photographers
Map Collections In the Map Collection there is a section called Military Battles/Campaigns where you can search for maps pertaining to World War II. In the collection World War II Military Situation Maps, there are maps showing troop positions from June 6, 1944 to July 26, 1945. These maps and reports were used by the commanders of the United States forces in their evaluation of the campaigns and for planning future strategies. There is a great section of maps from the Battle of the Bulge that shows military positions by date. Special Presentations: Places in the News , Meeting the Frontiers: Collections from the Library of Congress: Maps , Puerto Rico at the Dawn of the Modern Age: Selected Cartographic Items , Essay: Battle of the Bulge (interactive)
Ansel Adams's Photographs of Japanese-American Internment at Manzanar
In 1943, Ansel Adams (1902-1984), America's best-known photographer, documented the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California and the Japanese Americans interned there during World War II. When he offered the collection to the Library in 1965, Adams wrote, "The purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice, and loss of property, businesses and professions, had overcome the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment. . . All in all, I think this Manzanar Collection is an important historical document, and I trust it can be put to good use." Special Presentations: Collection Highlights , Timeline , Essay: Born Free and Equal
Words and Deeds in American History There are only four entries pertaining to World War II in the Words and Deeds Collection, but they are very unique primary sources that could help peak your students interest in World War II. The items consist of a naval dispatch announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor, a memorandum in Russian from Joseph Stalin, General George S. Patton's diary entries and a letter from Franklin D. Roosevelt about secret atomic research. Special Presentations: Collecting, Preserving and Researching History
Built in America This collections document achievements in architecture, engineering, and design in the United States and its territories through a comprehensive range of building types and engineering technologies. Some of the buildings in this collection include World War II era type homes, naval air stations, ammunition plants and memorials. Special Presentations: HABS/HAER Highlights
History of the American West This collection pertains mainly to photographs from Colorado and the west. Hidden in this collection are photographs from World War II and the 10th Mountain Division ski troop that was stationed in Italy during the War. Special Presentations: Native American Women , L.C. McClure and Denver, the City Beautiful , The 10th Mountain Division
Freedom's Fortress This collections tells the history of the Library of Congress during a particularly important period. From 1939 to 1953 the Library underwent a myriad of changes that established the institution as one of America's foremost citadels of intellectual freedom. In this collection you will find memos, letters and photographs some concerning the evacuation of the Library during World War II. Special Presentations: Timeline , Essay-Biographical Sketches
American Life Histories; Manuscripts from the Federal Writer's Project, 1936-1940 These life histories were compiled and transcribed by the staff of the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers' Project for the U.S. Works Progress. The work represents over 300 writers from 24 states. Some of the life histories are from people who were in Italy or had family in Italy during World War II. Special Presentations: Voices from the Thirties: An Introduction to the WPA Life Histories Collection
Frontline Diplomacy (Diplomacy and Foreign Service) This collection presents a window into the lives of American diplomats. Transcripts of interviews with U.S. diplomatic personnel capture their experiences, motivations, critiques, personal analyses, and private thoughts. While some 1920s- 1930s-, and World-War-II-era diplomacy is covered, most of the interviews involve post-World-War-II diplomacy, from the late 1940s to the 1990s. Special Presentations: Essay-The Interview Process
Lesson Plans and Activities/Classroom Materials
Features and Activities
Timeline: Great Depression and World War II, 1929-1945
On the Home Front
Women Pioneers (On the Job)
American Treasures of the Library of Congress World War II
John Bull and Uncle Sam: Four Centuries of British-American Relations (From Enemy to Ally)
Bob Hope and American Variety
Women Coming to the Front: Journalist, Photographers and Broadcasters During WWII
Churchill and the Great Republic
Teaching with Primary Sources
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Ave.
Charleston, IL 61920
Director: Cindy Rich, Ph.D.
- The Source (Central Illinois)
- TPS Journal
(Bickford & Rich)
- Scrutinizing and Supplementing Children’s Trade Books about Child Labor
Social Studies Research and Practice [Online]
Facilitating Students’ Historical Scrutiny of Credibility within Slave Narratives
The Councilor: A Journal of the Social Studies (Online)
Trade books’ Historical Representation of Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, and Helen Keller
Social Studies Research and Practice [Online]
Examining the Representation of Slavery within Children’s Literature
in Social Studies Research and Practice [Online]
Cindy's guest post on the Library's Teaching with the Library of Congress blog
(pdf or doc)
- ABC Photo Analysis
- Book Analysis
- Cartoon Analysis
- Letter Analysis
- Map Analysis
pdf doc TPS
- More You Look Photo Analysis
pdf doc TPS
- Motion Picture Analysis
pdf doc TPS
- Poem Analysis
- Poster Analysis
- Put Yourself in the Picture Photo Analysis
- Sheet Music Analysis
pdf doc TPS
- Sound Recording Analysis
pdf doc TPS
- Storyboard Sheet
- Written Document Analysis
pdf doc TPS