Remembering WWI: Resources for Educators

Click to download the EHC’s pdf guide to remembering WWI: Remembering WWI- Resources for Educators, Evanston History Center August 2014

The centennials of World War One offer many opportunities for educators to guide students in examining the war’s history and impact. Teaching about the war can be done within the context of a range of subject matter, from literature and poetry to social and cultural history. The Evanston History Center offers this list of resources as a starting point for lesson planning. Numerous sites, such as the Library of Congress and the National Archives, offer primary sources such as maps, photographs, and oral history for use in the classroom. (Many are downloadable). Many also offer lesson plans.

Please note: While most sites listed below maintain access to some materials that are in the public domain, it is up to each user to determine the rights related the use of the materials housed in the collections listed below.

This resource guide contains:

Teachers and Educators: We want to hear from you! Please send comments, ideas, and additions to Jenny Thompson, Director of Education at

Thanks to Justin Jacobson for recommending the article, “The History of Military Automotive Vehicles,” for this site. We love hearing from students and educators who use these resources! Thanks, Justin!

Online Collections from Archives, Libraries and Museums:

The National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives is a fantastic resource for all types of WWI material. It also offers a variety of resources for educators.

Teachers’ Resources

Docs Teach (Access to activities and primary documents)

About WWI:Military Resources: World War I

Lesson Plans from the National Archives include, for example: Teaching With Documents: Photographs of the 369th Infantry and African Americans during World War I


The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress also offers a vast array of material related to WWI. Visit this website for an overview of the materials in its collections:

Other more targeted pages include:

Education Resources
Lesson Plans

Choose a topic from these teacher created lesson plans. Most plans are targeted for students in grades 6-12, but there are also some that are appropriate for grades 3-8. Plans are broken into topics, including WWI, but also into related topics such as poetry, women’s history, etc.

Classroom Materials

Lesson plans, primary source links, and presentation and activities are available here.

The site includes the following lesson:

World War I: What Are We Fighting For Over There?
Lesson Overview The Great War of 1914-1918 significantly shaped the course of the twentieth century, both at home and abroad. How can this pivotal event be personalized and brought to life for students in the new millennium? Unfortunately, increasingly fewer survivors of the World War I era are alive today to directly share their recollections of this historical time. Yet, by delving into the unique resources of American Memory and by creating World War I period newspapers of differing perspectives, students can gain an enduring understanding of The Great War.

(“American Memory” offers primary sources such as maps and photographs that are available for download and for use in Power Point presentations.)


The IPL (Internet Public Library)

This is a terrific site to find links to a wide range of WWI related sites and materials. The subjects covered are broad and the links provided will take visitors to numerous types of sites, such as the BBC. It also connects with collections from countries other than the United States, including Germany, Canada and Italy.


The World War One Document Archive

Links to primary documents and includes a terrific photograph catalogue. Memoirs, essays, and books are also listed (some downloadable) via the site.


Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

President Harry S. Truman served as an artillery Captain in World War One. This site has a number of lesson plans on a range of subjects related to the war, from women and the war to poetry. The lesson plans are in both word and powerpoint formats and are downloadable.

The site also has a large range of primary source material, including oral histories and documents related to the Truman’s military service. It also includes an extensive, searchable digitized photograph collection.

Primary Sources
Lesson Plans


Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)

The PBS website has a wonderful array of lesson plans under the title, “The Great War and the Shaping of the 20th Century.” The materials are related to an 8 part series on the war that first aired in 1996. These lesson plans will mostly be suitable for high school students. They cover the war from more of a political and military point of view, tracing events from the war’s beginning to its aftermath. Eight separate lesson plans are available and are downloadable as pdfs. Supplemental resources, such as maps and other links, are included in the lessons.

The PBS site also offers a reading list


The Illinois Digital Archives

The Illinois Digital Archives offers a variety of WWI primary sources materials related to Illinois’ role in the war. The collection is provided by the Illinois State Library and includes books, pamphlets, training manuals, etc. Items can be viewed in the online digital reader or downloaded from the site.


The University of Illinois

The University of Illinois offers 105 digitized French posters from World War I. The posters are part of the collection of the University of Illinois Archives. The collection is searchable and can also be browsed by poster. Educators can also find information about the artists and themes, and they can also read about how the posters changed over time.



Sites (local and regional):

The Charles Gates Dawes House,
Headquarters of the Evanston History Center, Evanston, IL

School tours to the Dawes House can include a look at the various WWI memorabilia contained within the 1896 mansion. The house was the former home of Charles Dawes, who served in France during WWI. Dawes was close friends with General John Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces. The Archives at the History Center also houses numerous types of materials related to the war, including photographs and posters. The research room is open to the public.


Cantigny Park and Museums, Wheaton, IL

The Museums at Cantigny include the Robert R. McCormick Museum and the First Division Museum. McCormick served during WWI and many stories related to the war can be found at the museums.


National WWI Museum at Liberty Memorial, Kansas City, MO

The United States’ “official” WWI museum. The museum’s origins lie in the 1919 campaign started by citizens to build a memorial. The Liberty Memorial opened in 1926. The museum opened in 2006.



Reading List:

A Son at the Front (1923). Edith Wharton. Novel. See also Wharton’s Summer (1917), a novel set in the United States, but one that Wharton said was influenced by her experiences of living in France during the war. (Wharton worked to aid refugees from the war and in 1916 was awarded the French Legion d’Honneur.

Scott’s Official History of the American Negro in the World War(1919) Emmett J. Scott. (Available for free here). A classic of African-American and military history. Scott’s catalogue chronicles African-American experiences and service during the war. Includes numerous photographs.

Two Colored Women with the American Expeditionary Forces (1920) Addie W. Hunton and Kathryn Magnolia Johnson. Memoir of two American women who volunteered to do overseas during the war. (Available for free on Google Books)

One of Ours, Willa Cather (1923 Pulitzer Prize winner). Novel. American. Takes place during the war in the U.S. (Nebraska) and France. (Available for free on Project Gutenberg.)

All Quiet on the Western Front (1929). Erich Maria Remarque. Novel. German. The classic anti-war novel about German soldiers during WWI.

Good-Bye to All That (1929) Robert Graves. Memoir. British. An autobiographical account by a WWI officer. A classic story that traces the end of “prewar” culture and the coming of the modern age.

A Farewell to Arms (1929) Ernest Hemingway. American. Novel. Based in part of Hemingway’s experience as a volunteer ambulance driver during WWI.

Memoirs of an Infantry Officer (1930) Siegfried Sassoon. Novel. British. Based on Sassoon’s experiences in WWI. Sassoon became one of the most famous poets of WWI.

Paths of Glory by Humphrey Cobb (1935). American. Novel. Based on real events involving mutinies in the Allied armies on the Western Front. (Later made into the movie by the same name, directed by Stanley Kubrick.)

The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) Paul Fussell. Non-fiction. Examines the literature and symbolism of WWI. Fussell said he wrote the work out of anguish at the American involvement in Vietnam. Fussell had served in the infantry in World War II.

Regeneration (1991) Pat Barker. British. Novel, based on real events. Focuses on the war poets, “shell shock,” and the attempts to treat soldiers using psychoanalysis. First in a trilogy.

Birdsong (1993) Sebastian Faulks. British. Novel, part of a trilogy spanning WWI through WWII.

Poetry of the war:

The First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The American Poetry of the Great War Digital Archive