Propaganda & Patriotism in World War I
Brandon J. Sethi
Urbana Middle School
AHTC Unit Plan
Illinois State Archives: Springfield, IL
In this unit, students will be confronted with issues of patriotism in World War I. Students will be challenged to consider what it means to be an American and patriotic specifically during a time of war. Students will also explore in-depth the tools of propaganda used by the government to encourage citizens to support the war effort and the issue of compelled patriotism. The series of lessons culminates with a look at the United States post-9/11 and the way the word patriotism was so strongly used. It is important to note that due to the resources available at the Illinois State Archives there is nothing specifically concerning any anti-war activity during the time period. Anti-war activity can in some ways be seen as the highest form of patriotism and this is a concept that should be explored in-depth with the students in some ways even if the primary sources available here do not directly lend themselves to that discussion.
Unit Essential Questions:
1. What does it mean to be patriotic? What types of activities are patriotic/unpatriotic? Who is the authority?
2. What does it mean to be an American?
3. How is propaganda used to mobilize people in times of war? Why is it used?
4. What role should the media play in furthering the government’s agenda?
Students will be setting the context for the course of the week with several vocabulary terms. Further, this lesson is the first in the series and looks at how the government encourages patriotism through different policies and why they use patriotism.
In this lesson
we look at the second phase of coerced patriotism and that concerns the media’s
role in emphasizing government policy.
Students should be challenged to consider the role the media plays in
government policy and why they play that role. Additional questions to consider are: what is the media’s main
responsibility? Why do they report
on the things they do and not on the things they don’t?
In this lesson,
we look at the third and final step of coerced patriotism and that is the
people’s response. The media goes
through a great effort to align itself with the government during World War I
and through studying the Boys Working Reserve, we get an idea of how and why
that call is answered.