Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Great War Press Conference
John Denham
US History
Time Frame:
2-3 class days
World War I

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Students will work in groups and do research to identify the reasons for fighting in The Great War by the primary
combatants in December of 1914 and then present their “press statement” to the class who can act like the press corp
and ask questions after the presentation.


To gain perspective on the outbreak of the Great War and to further understand the point of view of the early
combatant countries.

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

Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly, supplying evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and
limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience's knowledge level and concerns.
Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the argument presented.
Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can
follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose,
audience, and task.
� AP European Learning Objective - Period 4 IS-3 Explain how and why tensions have arisen between the
individual and society over the course of European History

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Textbook: McKay, John, Bennett D Hill, John Buckler, Clare Haru Crowston, Merry Wiesner-Hanks, and Joe
Perry. A History of Western Society: Since 1300 For Advanced Placement 11th ed. Boston: Bedford/St.
Martin's, 2011. (Or comparable College Board approved AP European approved text)
Cornish https://www.iwm.org.uk/history/what-you-need-to-know-about-pre-first-world-war-alliances
� Students should research secondary sources, in the time allowed, and choosing secondary resources that help
with the context portion of the written statement

Primary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed:

Each student group should research their specific country and primary resources related to their context and point of
view to help in the drafting of their press statement. The following links provide a starting point in seeking out those
� France - https://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/France:_1872_-_1945
� Great Britain - https://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Britain_1816-1918
� Germany - https://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Eighteenth_and_Nineteenth_Century_Germany
� Austria-Hungary -
� Russia - https://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Russia_1796-1917
� Serbia - https://eudocs.lib.byu.edu/index.php/Autonomous_Serbia_1804-1918

Full description of activity or assignment.

Provide the following information to the students in a handout or a document shared online:
It is December 1914 and a joint press conference has been called to explain the widespread fighting taking place on
the European continent. In June Austro-Hungarian Prince Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his wife were
assassinated in Sarajevo which prompted the great powers to react in a violent way. There are six countries
Austria-Hungary, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Serbia . Each country will have a chance to
read a statement outlining their policies towards war, who they feel is responsible and why have they decided to join
in the fighting. Each country should also be prepared to take questions from an assembled group of reporters.
� A GROUP LEADER will be chosen. The leader will share their document with the other group members that is provided for
them in Canvas OR Blackboard OR Google Drive so that everyone has access to ONE document. I will grade only those
GROUP LEADERS submissions.
� Typed formal statement to be submitted on the day of the press conference that includes at the bottom a statement identifying
each member of the group and their task in the statement
� Statements will be read after sufficient time has been given and will be presented in front of the class in the format of a press
conference in December of 1914.

Full explanation of the assessment method and/or scoring guide:

Great War Press Conference Scoring Guide


Topic: The work addresses the view of the member country and clearly addresses the aggressor /10
Evidence: Statement offers specific information regarding past conflicts,the current conflicts and future plans /10
Written Statement: Statement is typed, has clear purpose, is organized and identifies the role of each member in preparing the statement
Creative Effort: The work shows exemplary overall creative effort and adds to the understanding and enjoyment of the Western Civilization curriculum. /5
Total /35