The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE | Collection


The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Collection covers key topics in the timeline of World War I—from the factors that turned U.S. neutrality into engagement to the challenges of making a just and lasting peace. Classroom support materials offer ways to engage with questions raised during the war that persist today, including ones related to balancing civil liberties with national security, the role of women in politics, the loyalty of immigrants, and racism.

  • Wartime Propaganda | The Great War

    Discover how the Committee on Public Information (CPI), led by George Creel, launched a massive publicity campaign to support the United States’ entry into World War I, in this video adapted from The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Appointed by President Woodrow Wilson, Creel created innovative ways, including using the movies—the new mass media—and celebrity culture, to dispense pro-war propaganda to create enthusiasm for the war and dampen dissent. This resource is a part of the AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Great War Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Targeting German Americans | The Great War

    Examine the effects of anti-German sentiment that swept through the United States soon after the country entered World War I, in this video adapted from The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Attacks on German Americans and their culture included the censorship of German songs and plays. Even more extreme was a presidential decree that established a registry of over 500,000 German Americans as “enemy aliens,” including some who could trace their American ancestors to back before the Revolutionary War. This resource is a part of the The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE | Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Crackdown on Dissent | The Great War

    Explore how President Wilson’s crackdown on dissent during World War I, which was strengthened by the Sedition Act in 1918, put civil liberties at risk, in this video adapted from The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Anyone who spoke out against the United States government, the flag, or the armed forces could be arrested and/or imprisoned. This led to a “chilling effect” on civil liberties at the same time that the United States was fighting in a war to “make the world safe for democracy.” This resource is a part of the The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE | Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Power of Popular Songs | The Great War

    Listen to the way songs helped spread the news and influence opinion before the United States entered World War I, in this video adapted from The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Through recordings and sheet music, the words to popular songs written in Manhattan’s “Tin Pan Alley” served as both entertainment and a news source at a time when many people didn’t read newspapers or couldn’t read English. This resource is a part of The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE | Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • African Americans and World War I | The Great War

    Discover the challenges African Americans experienced during World War I as they tried to reconcile the ideals of “making the world safe for democracy” with the harsh realities they encountered at home, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Great War. Faced with prejudice and racist Jim Crow laws in the United States, many African Americans questioned their role as soldiers in a war that promised to save “democracy” around the world. In addition, the newly instituted draft led to increased racial tension and deadly violence. This resource is a part of the The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The United States Enters World War I | The Great War

    Examine Woodrow Wilson’s reasons for entering World War I using primary sources and video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Great War. On January 31, 1917, facing stalemate on the Western Front and with millions of its people at home on the brink of starvation, Germany made a tactical decision. It announced that German submarines would attack any ship in the war zone around Great Britain. When U.S. merchant ships were sunk, President Wilson resolved to fight. On April 2, with Americans still divided about whether to enter the war against Germany, Wilson gave a speech to Congress justifying U.S. participation. This resource is a part of the The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • Alice Paul and Women’s Suffrage | The Great War

    Meet suffragist leader Alice Paul and learn about her undaunted fight for the right of women to vote, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Great War. Not wanting to be cast as unpatriotic, many women’s suffrage groups suspended their protests after the United States entered World War I in 1917. Paul and a small group of supporters continued their efforts. Paul accused President Woodrow Wilson of “obstructing the cause of democracy at home, while Americans were fighting for it abroad.” The publicity surrounding Paul’s imprisonment caused Wilson’s administration to come under attack. Wilson eventually decided to support women’s suffrage. This resource is a part of The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • A Postwar Vision in Fourteen Points | The Great War

    Examine the national and global context that motivated President Woodrow Wilson to write the Fourteen Points, his vision for attaining peace after World War I, in this video adapted from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Great War. By the fall of 1917, with millions of U.S. soldiers heading into battle, a competing world vision emerging from Russia, and protests mounting at home, Wilson needed to propose a way forward. His January 8, 1918, speech to Congress included the Fourteen Points, which reflected his vision for the postwar world. Thanks to strong publicity, Wilson’s Fourteen Points reached people on both sides of the war—the Allies and Central Powers—and provided hope for ending the war with a lasting peace. This resource is a part of the The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE Collection.

    Grades: 9-12
  • The Challenges of Making Peace | The Great War

    Students examine how World War I affected the United States, France, Great Britain, and Germany and why it was such a challenge for Woodrow Wilson to orchestrate a just peace. In this interactive lesson, students watch videos from AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: The Great War, read primary source documents and video transcripts, and analyze data to better understand how and why the U.S. and European leaders differed in their goals for a postwar peace treaty. This resource is a part of the The Great War: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE | Collection.

    Grades: 9-12

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