World War I on the Minnesota Home Front
by Carla Urban, Minnesota Digital Library Exhibits Outreach Coordinator, Minitex
eLibrary Minnesota Resources (for Minnesota residents)
- "World War I." Britannica School. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 2016. Web. 24 May. 2016.
- "World War I." Student Resources in Context. Web. 24 May 2016.
- "WORLD WAR I (1914-1918)." African American Almanac. Ed. Brigham Narins. 10th ed. Detroit: Gale, 2009. Student Resources in Context. Web. 24 May 2016.
Additional Resources for Research
- . "Anti-German nativism, 1917-1919," MNopedia, Minnesota Historical Society. 7 April 2016. Web. 19 May 2016.
- Eighmey, Rae Katharine. "Food will win the war: Minnesota conservation efforts, 1917-1918." Minnesota History, Minnesota Historical Society. 59.7: 272-286. Web. 19 May 2016.
- "Home Before the Leaves Fall: The Great War, 1914-1918," WWIOnline. Web. 19 May 2016.
- "Liberty gardens: 1917-1919," MNopedia, Minnesota Historical Society. 20 April 2016. Web. 19 May 2016.
- National WWI Museum and Memorial online exhibitions. National WWI Museum. Web. 19 May 2016.
- "Patriotic Labor: America during World War I online exhibit," Digital Public Library of America. Web. 19 May 2016
- "Sixteenth Battalion, Minnesota Home Guard," MNopedia, Minnesota Historical Society. 20 April 2016. Web. 19 May 2016.
- "Women on the World War I home front," Mnodpedia, Minnesota Historical Society. 20 April 2016. Web. 19 May 2016.
- World War I and the American Red Cross. American Red Cross. Web. 19 May 2016.
Teaching Guide: World War I on the Minnesota Home Front
Primary Source Analysis
For each source, ask students to indicate:
- the author's point of view
- the author's purpose
- historical context
For inquiry-based learning, ask students to:
- explain how a source tells its story and/or makes its argument
- explain the relationships between sources
- compare and contrast sources in terms of point of view and method
- support conclusions and interpretations with evidence
- identify questions for further investigation
This teaching guide helps instructors use a specific primary source set, World War I on the Minnesota Home Front, in the classroom. It offers discussion questions, classroom activities, and primary source analysis tools. It is intended to spark pedagogical creativity by giving a sample approach to the material. Please feel free to share, reuse, and adapt the resources in this guide for your teaching purposes.
When you look at the individual items in Minnesota Reflections, use the zoom-in tool to view details in the images or more easily read the documents.
- Why do you think children and youth show up in so many of the images in this set? Based on these images, describe some of the ways the war might have effected the lives of children of the time.
- There are numerous historical images of World War I-related parades in Minnesota Reflections. Look at the 2 images we have included in this set and think about the role of parades in a community - especially during war time. Since the years 1916-1918 were well before radio, television, and the internet, how do you think parades and community events like this helped keep people informed, involved and inspired?
- Why was a "special wartime container" used for the tooth powder?
- Using the listing of WWI service members from Becker County (at least page 13), describe some of the similarities and differences between the individuals and their service.
- Based on the items in this set, what similarities or differences do you see with how Minnesotans today interact with the country's current military and military efforts?
- Read the regulations (at least page 3) for alien enemy registration and the Registration Affidavit of John Hummel. At the time of World War I, Germans were the largest ethnic minority group in Minnesota. What were German residents required to do? How do you think this would have effected their daily lives or their relationships with their communities? Are you aware of other examples in the U.S. of alienation of targeted groups while we are at war?
- Think about the images of the African American men on the train, the Native American man rejected from service (from the Becker County document, p. 13), and the German man registered as an alien enemy. What do they tell you about attitudes toward people of different races and ethnicities at the time?
- What does the Swords and Plowshares playbill tell us about the attitude of Minnesotans toward war after the end of World War I?
One of the items in the set is a letter from a soldier to his family back home. Imagine yourselves as a family during World War I writing letters to your soldier on the front. Using what you observed in this set of resources, along with other knowledge, what sorts of news and daily activities might a mother, father and siblings report on in such letters?