The Evolution of Revolution in the 20th Century


Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

My DBQ assignment will revolve around various revolutionary movements in the 20th century. Students will examine primary documents, such as the image above, and attempt to draw conclusions about the factors that contribute to what I will consider “revolutionary moments,” or the boiling over of revolutionary sentiments in a national context. To begin, I will introduce the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Beginning on Easter 1916, the Irish revolution proved to be the initial unraveling of the British Empire, as they waged war against the central powers in World War I. Unpopular both at home and abroad, the Irish revolution gained momentum over the course of five years, until the signing of a cease fire in 1921 between the government of the United Kingdom and the newly formed Republic of Ireland. War then broke out between Pro-Treaty and Anti-Treaty forces, once they were forced to confront the reality of a divided nation, as outlined by the treaty signed with the British government.

The Irish revolutionary period raises many interesting questions regarding revolution in the 20th century. As most revolutions pitted an independence movement against a larger, imperial force, one must ask who controls the revolution? In the case of Ireland, a revolution did not unite the country, but in fact divided it along lines that persist to this day.

I would ask students to compare the Irish revolution to Mexico’s in later units. Though I have yet to delve deeply into the history of the Mexican revolution, the parallel timelines should elicit some interesting comparisons. Fortunately, both revolutionary periods produced a surfeit of sources that capture the sentiments of the time.


Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Who controls a revolution? The revolutionaries, or their opposition? When and why do revolutions begin? How does the Proclamation of Irish Republic compare to other documents of independence, namely the US Declaration of Independence? Does a revolution necessarily need an enemy? How have revolutions changed in the 21st century?


Courtesy of The New York Times.

Red Scare in America


Christina Steiner and I are in a group. For our topic we are looking at the 1950’s Red Scare in America. The generative question we have right now is “How does a nation develop such an intense fear and enemy, creating mass hysteria?”

For this DBQ we will be looking at what the media produced and the tactics they employed. Of course there are plenty of propaganda posters depicting the “evil commies,” as well as “informational” videos created about the communist threat. We are also thinking of having the students read an excerpt from the McCarthy hearings, and possibly newspaper clippings from the time, so the DBQs will not be all image based.

Hopefully students will be able to use the material to see the different ways people were influenced by imagery in the media to believe in the communist threat. Students will be able to see what tactics the media used to scare citizens.

Students will be able to look at the DBQ, whether it is images or documents, without any previous knowledge of it and point out different aspects that either promote or reject a certain group, person, or country. Students can then answer questions such as: what is it saying about that group? How does it say it? Etc.

Additionally the generative question can span to almost any war era or period of fear. Also students will be able to draw connections between how media portrays the “wrong” thing today, to how it did in the 1950s.

Media and War

My DBQ assignment asks students to answer the following question:

How does media impact our perception of war?

Students will view and analyze media from the Vietnam War era to answer this question. First, in order to build some content knowledge and context, students will watch a film that surveys the major events and themes of the war.

We will then move to the analysis of photographs, advertisements, speeches and letters that support the war effort. Students will look for commonalities in themes, emotions, and methodologies, as well as judge the effectiveness of the various media types. The process will then be repeated with anti-war media.

Applying their freshly-gained media savvy, students will then curate a slideshow of media depicting a contemporary conflict. They must take a position in the conflict, select media supporting that position, present their slideshow to the class, and explain why they selected each image, video, or text.


Vietnam War Protesters

  • Description: Vietnam War protesters. 1967. Wichita, Kansas, 1967
  • Source: US Archiv ARCWEB ARC Identifier: 283627

Native American Residents and European Explorers: How Did Cultural Exchange Occur?

By: Tom Malone

How did cultural exchange occur between Native American residents and European conquerors upon first contact?

This is the question I want my students to tackle. By utilizing documents and artifacts from both sides of the cultural exchange, students will be able to develop a multi-perspective viewpoint on European/Native American contact as opposed to the Eurocentric viewpoint that most students in the U.S. experience.

For this academic adventure, students will look at European exploration documents (Columbus’ journal entries, European artists’ depictions of initial contact, financial records, etc.) and Native American resident documents (Aztec interpretations, oral history that has since been written, paintings depicting a Native American perspective, etc.). Students will explore an equal number of European and Native American documents. These documents will not be nation-specific, but will look at contact across the North American and South American Atlantic Coast.

The exercise will allow students to develop a more complete view of this segment of history by developing perspectives from various lenses. Students can explore narratives from both sides, find textual and visual evidence to show these statements, and interpret these observations in order to develop their worldview more completely.

Through group discussions and written analysis, students will be able to share their experiences with these documents and artifacts.