The devastation of the Great War unfolded on a scale unprecedented until that time in world history- a crisis that demanded a new type and scale of international response.

These lesson plans explore the role United States volunteer organizations played in relieving the suffering of civilians during the humanitarian crisis of World War I. Designed for high school learners, the lesson plans help students trace the legacies of humanitarian relief work and humanitarian workers in the World War I era and throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. Using primary sources that include artifacts, letters, journal entries, photographs, and early motion pictures, students will learn about the organizations and their volunteers. Finally, students are invited to consider the role the private sector and United States government played in relief efforts and the importance of public support in the success of such work.

The topic is divided into four interrelated lesson plans that could be taught independently or as a whole, depending upon grade level, instructional objectives, and time:

  1. Activator, What is a Humanitarian Problem?
  2. Lesson I, Comparison of Contemporary Humanitarian Workers to Humanitarian Workers During World War I
  3. Lesson II, Organization and Mobilization of Public Support and Humanitarian Relief for Belgium and France During World War I
  4. Extension Activity, Student-Designed Recruitment Campaign for Volunteer Assistance of Humanitarian Relief Efforts in Europe