Closer Readings Commentary

Top Resources for Teaching World War I and the Aftermath

Few Americans understand why the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, nearly three years after Europe and most of the rest of the world were engulfed in the carnage of the Great War. The centennial of America’s entry into the war is being commemorated by exhibitions, film, television programs, and books.

The following websites, all free, some supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), allow teachers, students, parents, and lifelong learners the opportunity to sample the fruits of years of research on the causes, course, and consequences of the “war to end all wars” through up-to-date scholarship, dramatic photographs, fascinating art, and significant primary sources and expert commentary that will help us figure out just what we were doing “over there.”

Artist Soldiers: Artistic Expression in World War I
A collaboration between the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and National Museum of American History, the website and exhibition examine artistic expression from two complementary perspectives: professional artists recruited by the U.S. Army and soldiers who created artwork.

Chronicling America: America’s Historic Newspapers
Library of Congress and NEH supported project of digitalized newspapers from around the country covering the period 1789–1924. From the home page of Chronicling America, through the “100 Years Ago” feature, you can read the front pages of the nation’s newspapers as they covered the war, American involvement, and reactions back home day by day.

Suggested Topics:

The Great War on American Experience (New)
the long-running American Experience program offers a three-part, six-hour film history of World War I, with the focus on American involvement and the effects of the war on American society. The website currently offers the six-hour film to stream, along with video clips and short contextual articles.

The Great War: A Visual History (New)
From the American Battle Monuments Commission, an extensive multimedia timeline, with maps, photographs and video footage, covering the war years, 1914-1918, the prewar period 1870–1914, and the post war years.

World War I and America (New)
From the Library of America, a multimedia website and online reader that contains primary sources with video commentaries by participating scholars covering the following themes:

Included among the primary sources and commentaries are: Woodrow Wilson’s “Address to Congress”; Robert Frost’s poem “Not to Keep”; W.E.B. Du Bois’s essays “Returning Soldiers” and “Close Ranks”; short stories by Mary Borden, “The Beach,” and Willa Cather, “Roll Call on the Prairie”; Henry Cabot Lodge’s “Address on the League of Nations”; Warren G. Harding’s “Unknown Soldier”; and Ernest Hemingway’s short story “Soldier’s Home.”

World War I and American Art (New)
NEH-supported museum exhibition of American artists’ responses to the Great War.

World War One and the Middle East
A National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers

World War I Centenary: 100 Years, 100 Legacies
The Wall Street Journal has selected 100 legacies from World War One that continue to shape our lives today.