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[Detail] A French officer and his British ally at the front read the New York Times.

Chronological Thinking: Creating Timelines

Develop five pictorial timelines, one showing major events for each year of the Great War (1914-1918). Refer to the Timeline in the collection’s Feature Section or the chronology of the war in The War of the Nations as a guide. On a monthly timeline of a given year, record battles or the start of major campaigns during that year. Combine the timelines for a visual overview of the war. The timelines should include battles on the Eastern and Western fronts, Southern Europe and the Dardanelles, and campaigns in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as well as major naval battles.

Use the timeline as a database and construct a map depicting the global nature of the war. The War of the Nations contains several maps that you could use as models. For example, see the map entitled “Geography and Chronology of the World War: Europe, Africa and the Near East.” To keep the maps readable, you may want to make a separate map for each year of the war. Use your timelines and maps to answer the following questions:

  • In what sectors did the most intense fighting occur in each year of the war?
  • What can be inferred about the stalemate on the Western Front during the course of the war? What measures did each side take to break the stalemate?
  • What conclusions can be drawn from the entrance of Italy to the war in 1915? Did campaigns in this sector further the interests of the Allies during subsequent years?
  • What can be inferred from the decision to attack the Turks at Gallipoli?

Although a major event such as a war, hotly contested election, or major economic recession may overshadow other events in writing the history of a year or period, other aspects of life do not stand still. Pick a category of historical events in which you are interested, such as the history of a group (e.g., women or African Americans), history of the arts, economic history, history of fashion, or technological history. Use the Newspaper Pictorials collection to find at least one event or development in your chosen area for each year depicted in your timeline of World War I. How does knowing about these events and developments enhance your understanding of the history of the era of the Great War?

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