We are pleased to be offer this curriculum developed in partnership with The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Up Front and Coming Home: Bill Mauldin’s America in War and Peace, 1943–1947 focuses on World War II soldiers’ front line and post war experiences as told through primary sources, most prominently Bill Mauldin’s cartoons.
This unit is one of the Gilder Lehrman Institute’s Teaching Literacy through History™ resources, designed to align with the Common Core State Standards. These units were developed to enable students to understand, summarize, and evaluate original materials of historical significance. Through a step-by-step process, students will acquire the skills to use textual and visual evidence and develop critical thinking skills. Additionally, the unit is the product of a partnership with The Pritzker Military Museum & Library (PMML). The content is made possible through the rich resources held at PMML and the coordination provided to the Mauldin Family estate and other key organizations that celebrate the contribution of Bill Mauldin to American history.
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“The real war,” said Walt Whitman about the Civil War, “will never get in the books.” During World War II, the most authentic view Americans on the home front got of the “real war” came through weekly cartoons by Bill Mauldin and daily dispatches by Ernie Pyle.
Over the course of five days the students will analyze primary sources in the form of political cartoons, a journalistic dispatch, excerpts from Bill Mauldin’s books, women’s magazine articles, and print advertisements. These documents reflect the tension between optimism and pessimism, confidence and cynicism, realism and idealism evident in the coverage of the war. Students will closely analyze the primary sources in order to not only understand their literal meaning but also infer the more subtle messages. They will use textual and visual evidence to draw conclusions and present arguments as directed in each lesson.
NUMBER OF CLASS PERIODS: 5
The materials and number of days can be adjusted for classroom flexibility. You may choose to focus on just the Mauldin cartoons or the Pyle dispatch (for a three-day lesson) or use both sets of documents for a five-day exploration of the topic.
GRADE LEVEL(S): 7–12
COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.11-12.5: Analyze in detail how a complex primary source is structured, including how key sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text contribute to the whole.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.1: Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.11-12.6: Analyze a case in which grasping a point of view requires distinguishing what is directly stated in a text from what is really meant (e.g., satire, sarcasm, irony, or understatement).
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.11-12.1: Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.11-12.4: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.