Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Lesson Plans by National History Day

With an event as large and complicated as World War II, it is seemingly impossible to record the tales of every individual and group affected by the war. Men and women of every race, class, and ethnicity from that time have stories to tell of their experiences, either abroad or on the homefront, during World War II. For racial and ethnic minorities and women, World War II presented a unique challenge and opportunity, as they were being told to support their country in a war against tyranny when they themselves were being discriminated against. The response to this call varied by individual, but many answered by supporting the war effort in a variety of ways, from working in munitions factories to fighting on the front lines.

The following five lesson plans present different topics and activities for teachers to use with their students when studying World War II. Each lesson focuses on a different aspect or group experience during the war. Recommended activities based on primary sources give students firsthand insight into the time and ask them to make connections to their own lives. Furthermore, the lesson plans center around the National History Day (NHD) theme for 2008: Conflict and Compromise.

The lesson plans focus on five unique topics:

  • Researching family stories as oral histories
  • Women in the workplace
  • Women serving in the military
  • Progress towards equal work opportunities for African Americans
  • Legal battles of interned Japanese Americans
With each lesson plan you will find:
  • Relevance to a specific episode of Ken Burns's The War
  • Relevance to the 2008 NHD theme of Conflict and Compromise
  • Background information
  • Primary sources
  • Classroom activities


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