Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

The Fall of Saigon
Kim Morgan
Social Studies
Time Frame:
1-2 class periods
Fall Of Saigon
Primary Source Analysis
Vietnam War

Grade Levels:

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Individual or partner activity; analyzing primary source photos and documents
  • Examining artifacts from a Traveling Trunk

  • Most students have very little understanding of the Vietnam War and the Fall of Saigon

District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met:

Georgia Performance Standard –

SS5H8 The student will describe the importance of key people, events, and developments between 1950-1975.

a. Discuss the importance of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Vietnam War.

Missouri Standards

2. Continuity and change in the history of Missouri, the United States and the world

6. Relationships of the individual and groups to institutions and cultural traditions

7. The use of tools of social science inquiry (such as surveys, statistics, maps, documents)

Kansas Standards

Benchmark 4: The student engages in historical thinking skills.

6. (A) uses research skills to interpret an historical person or event in history and notes the source(s) of information (e.g., discusses ideas; formulates broad and specific questions; determines a variety of sources; locates, evaluates, organizes records and shares relevant information in both oral and written form).

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • cla.calpoly.edu (photo)
  • capital-flow-watch.net (photo)
  • life.com (photo)

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • Have students explore artifacts in the Vietnam Traveling Trunk:

*** Keep Saigon pics and radio transcriptions out for 2nd part of activity***

  • Booney hat
  • Dog tags
  • Rice bowl
  • Newspaper reproductions (Kent State, burning ROTC buildings, ’68 DNC)
  • Model helicopter
  • POW/MIA emblem
  • Medals, letters, pictures collected from friends/family who served in Vietnam


  • Have students analyze the artifacts and infer why each was placed in the trunk. What do they represent?


  • Show video clip “The Road to War” from History.com – discuss


  • In partnerships or small groups have students analyze the photos and radio transcriptions from the fall of Saigon – discuss


  • Have students add key points into their Interactive Notebooks (or binder) – determined by the teacher


  • Have students complete a 1-2-3 ticket out the door (1 thing they learned from the trunk, 2 questions they would put on a test about the topic, and 3 key points they got from the lesson)

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • Have students fully analyzed photos and documents
  • 1-2-3 ticket out the door