Learning, Online - Reflections on teaching history

Putting the World in WWI

Putting the World in World War One in History Classes

I enjoyed presenting a session on the global nature of World War One at the second annual Minnesota History Fest hosted by the Minnesota History Center on August 8, 2017. And, I’m looking forwarding to reprising it at the Minnesota Council for the Social Conference on March 5, 2018.  The resources that I gathered and presented can help history teachers to globalize their coverage of World War I.  Several of the European nations that began and contested the war had overseas empires.  Thus, colonialism and the war had a reflexive relationship: colonial hierarchies shaped peoples’ experiences of the war and colonial relationships affected the outcomes of the war.  A first step for teachers wishing to present the global reality of WWI is to use images of colonial participants in aspects of the war that they already cover.  From there, consider adding non-European theaters or the influenza pandemic.

Teachers examined placards with the images from around the world (see below) and identified themes from World War I present in the images (e.g. propaganda, trench warfare, industrial military technology).  They also took guesses at where the pictures were taken (all of the images are in the presentation slides, most have identifying text)

Many places in the first World War involved participants from multiple continents.  Teachers in the session had mixed results guessing where people in the situations below gathered:   Including these strings of places in presentations to students and teachers. makes the global nature of the war clear. Answers at the bottom of this page.


Smiling man wearing a trench coat

Maori soldier in a trench at Gallipoli, November 1915. Source: Imperial War Museum.



Answers to “Where in the World War One”: 1. Gallipoli 2. Tanzania (German East Africa at the time) 3. Iraq 4. Off the coast of Argentina 5. The Western Front

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