National WWI Museum and Memorial
World War I was a global conflict on an unprecedented scale between 1914-1918. The war began with an escalation of tensions after an assassination in the Balkans, but anxiety had been brewing for years before. Most people attribute the causes of the war to militarism, alliances, imperialism, industrialization, and nationalism. The war was ostensibly between most of the European nations but as a result of European imperialism and Germany’s alliance with the Ottoman Empire, many other nations from around the world joined the conflict. The US National WWI Museum and Memorial is located in Kansas City, Missouri and was established in 1926.
The museum has significant educational resources including a variety of lesson plans, databases for student research, an interactive timeline, and educational resources to provide background on WWI. These background resources include online exhibits, collections spotlights, videos, searchable databases of articles and videos, and categorized resources.
The searchable database allows users to look for keywords and pull up resources within categories or formats. The resources include topics from national histories, women’s history, black history, imperialism, technology, military history, art, culture, social shifts, medicine, politics, government, biographies, and more. Each resource includes a brief write-up intended to provide background and to position the object within context. This database, because it includes a category for WWI Essentials, would be useful for educators who are new to WWI teaching and, due to the wide topic variety, also useful for educators who wish to diversify what they can teach about the war. The resources on women and race could help an educator to introduce diversity to the narrative, or the resources on technology and medicine could help an educator make connections between history and other subjects.
The museum also hosts a YouTube channel. The channel houses previous live stream talks on special topics, object talks, and archival footage. These three offerings might be useful for introducing material culture or student research projects to the classroom, or to learning more about the conflict and its immense impacts.
Also useful for student research is the Student Research Guide. This is intended as an introduction to both primary and secondary source research. The landing page offers instructions for analyzing both types of sources, including guiding questions to help in reading sources, and instructions on how to cite these sources. The page also has a link to the museum’s online collections database and subject guides to WWI topics as discussed above.
Additionally, the museum offers a searchable database of lesson plans and curriculum support. The database is searchable by topic, resource type, and grade level. These curriculum support documents include a glossary, critical thinking activity, guiding questions, and connected lesson plans and micro units. The curriculum support has subtitles for various topics which might help educators who do not have the time to implement all the information and would prefer to incorporate only part of the information. The other lesson plans cover many topics, including individual objects, issue guides, primary source groupings, articles for student audiences, and videos and discussion questions. Each of these resources has different formats, therefore they may not be universally applicable or universally helpful. Additionally, due to the huge variety, it may be difficult for educators to find useful resources unless they approach the databases with specific interests and questions.
Finally, the museum also hosts an interactive timeline which moves through the war month by month and provides snippets of events with photos, videos, or objects as an accompaniment. This resource might be useful for educators wishing to provide their students a general overview of the war with a strong sense of time.
Overall, the museum offers many types of resources which are of varying utility. On the whole, we found the site very easy to navigate and the resources were polished and complete. However, due to the immense amount of resources, we advise educators to enter the databases with an idea of what they want rather than attempting to browse.