Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

The US Media and the Armenian Massacre
Catrina Pelton
US History
Time Frame:
Five class periods
World War I

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:
  • Students, after learning about WWI and the Armenian massacres will create newspapers analyzing the role of the media and the U.S. in the massacres.

  • The American role in the Armenian massacres perpetrated by the Ottoman Turks during World War I goes largely untaught yet is a vital part of explaining America’s current relationship with Turkey. As part of encouraging students to link the past to the present this lesson will engage them in not only analyzing that relationship but also the role the media plays in shaping that relationship.

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

  • Missouri Learning Standards: 3aA, 3aU, 3aW, 3aX, 3bM, 6M, 6N, 6O, 7A

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • Hanssen, Hans Peter. Diary of a Dying Empire. London: Kennekat Press, 1955.
  • Toynbee, Arnold J. The Murderous Tyranny of the Turks. New York: George H. Doran Company,      1998.
  • Charny, Israel W. ed. Encyclopedia of Genocide. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1999.
  • Kloian, Richard Diran. The Armenian Genocide: News Accounts from the American Press: 1915      1922. Berkeley: Anto-Printing, 2005.

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:
  • El-Ghusein, Fá’iz. Martyred Armenia. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1998.
  • Hartunian, Abraham H. Neither to Laugh nor to Weep: A Memoir of the Armenian Genocide. Boston:    Beacon Press, 1968.

Full description of activity or assignment.
  • “Media” is written on the board at the open of our discussion on the Armenian massacres. The students are asked to construct a word wall that incorporates words that they think of when the see the word media. As more words are added to the word wall I direct the thinking process to how the word wall would change if we said media in 1915. The students then remove the words that do not fit the new parameters. As we do this we discuss what factors influence the media and how events are portrayed.
  • Students are then give the lesson objectives and told they will be taking what they have learned about WWI and the Armenian massacres and delving deeper into the American role in the massacres, the role of the press, and how this has impacted the current relationship the U.S. has with Turkey.
  • Students are then divided into groups, one for each year from 1915-1923. Each year represents a year during the Armenian massacres.
  • Each group is charged with creating two newspapers, one from the American perspective and the other from the Armenian perspective (the U.S. having the second largest Armenian population outside of Armenia).
  • Each newspaper must include two editorial pieces, two advertisements, one era specific political cartoon, and four news articles. The purpose is to be as historically correct as possible so the students will research the time period and the press coverage at that time.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:
  • When the students are finished creating their newspapers they will be asked to write an essay analyzing why the American press covered the massacres in the manner they did and how that impacts the current relationship the U.S. has with Turkey. Students will be required to cite evidence from the newspapers created in class and their research.