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[Detail] Vinyl recording of President Wilson.

Arts & Humanities

The speeches can be used to study persuasive speaking techniques including alliteration, imagery, exaggeration, metaphor, repetition, and rhythm. As part of their study, some students can practice delivering the speeches aloud. Others can use the speeches as models, and then write and deliver their own speeches based on the persuasive techniques studied.

Context Clues

The speakers assumed their audience knew of current events. Seventy-five years after the fact, students may need background information to aid their understanding. Teachers can work with students to set the stage for World War One and the election of 1920. Students can study the speeches and practice using context to decode passages of text, even when some of the vocabulary words and historical references are unfamiliar. Teachers can model the exploration of two or three documents, moving from an easy to understand speech to a more difficult one.

Creative Writing

  1. Students can imagine that they live in the early 1900s, and listen to the speeches as if they were hearing about present day events. Students can write a journal of their impressions of America's role in the War and the 1920 election as they listen to the recordings.
  2. Students can write "Letters to the Editor" to express their views on topics of the time such as the high cost of living during the war, the danger posed by sympathizers to Germany, or the need to end America's isolationist policies and join the League of Nations. Based on the recordings, students can write mock interviews with the speakers such as Lodge, Harding, Coolidge and Wilson.

Speaking and Listening Skills

Using the collection, students can hone their speaking and listening skills. Students can prepare and deliver their own debates, speeches, and interviews on issues presented in the recordings. Students can improve listening skills by listening to recordings, then scoring the speakers on persuasiveness and clarity. To test their retention and comprehension of the speaker's topic, students can write a mock news article about the speech after listening to it.


Significant themes can be highlighted by the real lives of the people recorded in this collection. The theme of "taking risks for ideals" can be found in Wilson's speeches and life story. "Individual responsibility to society" is a frequent theme in the speeches as soldiers are asked to go to the front, and citizens are asked to sacrifice on behalf of the war effort. Students can search the collection for common themes, and then prepare their own recorded speech or story that illuminates that theme.