Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum

Total War: Causes and Consequences through Images
Kate Sutter
US History
Time Frame:
30 minutes
World War I

Grade Levels:
9, 10, 11, 12

Classroom/Homework Activity to be performed:

Students will apply new knowledge of technology as well as review prior knowledge of previous time periods by compare/contrasting images of total war from multiple eras.


Students are accountable for the causes and consequences of war, as well as significant develops and strategies. This will allow students to communicate their knowledge as well as review prior wars/time periods as we progress through the post-Civil War US History curriculum chronologically.

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

     Theme 1: Tools of Social Science Inquiry

     Strand: Continuity and Change

     B. Explain connections between historical context and peoples’ perspectives at the time in US History

      D. Using an inquiry lens, develop compelling questions about US History post-1870 to determine helpful resources and consider multiple viewpoints represented in the resources

     E. Analyze the causes and consequences of a specific problem in United States’ history post c. 1870 as well as the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.

     Theme 3: Re-Emerging America

      B. Explain how the expansion of industrialization, transportation and technological developments influenced different regions and the relationship between those regions.

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

     Hiroshima Peace Museum’s 3D Graphic/Video of destruction

    George Caleb Bingham’s General Order #11 painting

    Image/info of how Native Americans on the Plains utilized the buffalo such as https://i.pinimg.com/originals/db/88/6e/db886ea7fd715f9b1c1cf9d03c71915d.jpg

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

    I would show the slide of Buffalo skulls and WWI shelling to introduce the discussion and then use other war photos as necessary and continue the lesson plan as described below.



     Alternatively, 4 images have been inserted into a DocsTeach.org activity that students can access digitally.



      Before/after photos and informative articles shown below:

 Materials needed for this lesson

Full description of activity or assignment.

     Students will be given access to images for the wars/events the teacher would like students to compare. The pages attached here are divided by time period/war.

   Students will use guided questions to prepare for a class discussion about what them images tell us about the strategies used against the opposing side.

      Consider using these questions based on Stanford’s Historical Thinking Chart found at: https://sheg.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/download-pdf/Historical%20Thinking%20Chart.pdf

  1. When was the image created?

Do you believe this image reliable? Why or why not?

  1. What was different between 2 (or more) time periods? What is the same?
  2. What are other possible images or sources that would explain this image? What would an opposing viewpoint look like?
  3. How does the image indicate the photographer’s perspective?

      Students can record their responses and share as groups or do a gallery walk activity.


 Materials needed for this lesson

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

       Students will be informally assessed during the discussion. A writing assignment could be assigned asking students to complete a selected number of writing prompts from the Historical Thinking Chart. https://sheg.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/download-pdf/Historical%20Thinking%20Chart.pdf