This unit plan teaches students how women’s roles during the American Civil War and World War I have both changed and remained the same. Students will analyze primary visual sources, such as paintings and photographs, to develop conclusions. Through various activities and worksheets, students will discover what a primary source is, how to analyze visual materials, and about women's roles during the Civil War and World War I.
By looking at paintings and photographs of the Philadelphia Sanitary Commission, Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon, National League for Women Services, and the Liberty Loan Drive, students will learn how women’s roles during wartime largely remained the same. Specifically, during both conflicts women occupied mainly domestic jobs. The Civil War and World War I witnessed women working individually and in organized groups sewing, cooking, and cleaning for soldiers.
Furthermore, students will analyze photographs of the U.S. Navy, the American Red Cross, the Women’s Land Army, and women factory workers to learn how women’s roles were different between the Civil War and World War I. Specifically, the latter time period marked the first time in American history that women were allowed to enlist in the U.S. Navy, and become welders and factory workers. Nursing also became a newly professional and accepted field for women during the First World War.
This unit plan allows students to learn about women’s history from the perspective of a historian. By analyzing pictures and photographs from the Civil War and World War I, students will understand how historians use primary visual sources to unlock the past.