Welcome to the website for The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919 Curriculum!

A century ago, as the First World War devastated Europe, Americans watched in horror at the war’s human costs. But they did not just watch- they got involved. Volunteers distributed food, clothing, and medicine to soldiers and civilians in Belgium and France. They drove ambulances, operated field hospitals, and steered relief trucks. Some served under arms as soldiers or pilots in the French and British armies. Prompted by altruism, personal ambition, a search for adventure, or hope for the redemption of a devastated Europe, volunteers engaged with the world before the United States entered the conflict. The choice that tens of thousands of young men and women made transformed the meanings of volunteerism as well as the position of the United States in the world.

The Volunteers: Americans Join World War I, 1914-1919 is a free curriculum aligned with U.S. Common Core and UNESCO Global Learning standards for secondary school classrooms worldwide. The curriculum helps students analyze the history of World War I through the lens of this volunteer service, both before and after the period of American neutrality. It also aims to continue the legacy of volunteerism established during World War I by encouraging students to engage in local, regional, and international service.

Through this website you can learn more about the project, download the lesson plans, learn about the curriculum components, or visit the Teacher Toolkit for additional resources. Click on the menu items above to learn more!

Banner image captions:

Slide 1: A. Piatt Andrew and Stephen Galatti at the American Field Service headquarters in Paris, France in 1917. Photograph by H.C. Ellis. Courtesy of the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs
Slide 2: French Foreign Legion soldiers charging across a field. Courtesy of Dennis Gordon.
Slide 3: American nurses and doctors at the American Ambulance Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. Geraldine K. Martin Scrapbook. Courtesy of the Boston Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.
Slide 4: Red Cross nurses standing behind guns at an Army and Navy Tea Room during a fundraiser for the Actor’s Fund. George Grantham Bain Collection. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.