What matters to you.

Life During World War II: Using Artifacts to Understand History

Life During WWII
from the interactive resource "Up Close: Young People in World War II | Youth in World War II" on PBS LearningMedia

Target Audience: Grades 6-12
Subjects/Skills: History (World History classes, U.S. History classes)

Artifacts and personal stories can bring history to life, making the material more accessible to students and giving them a deeper connection with it. In partnership with the International Museum of World War II, GBH produced a collection of resources for PBS LearningMedia centered around using artifacts and primary sources to understand history. The collection includes several elements, all centered around learning and teaching with artifacts:

  • An interactive lesson (IL) exploring wartime propaganda, “The Power of Propaganda in World War II,” in which students explore a variety of propaganda and are then asked to write an essay weighing the risks and benefits of propaganda.
  • A series of videos on the varied roles of international women in World War II, specifically women in combat, on the job, and a broad look at women’s lives.
  • An interactive game in which students learn about how young people experienced World War II; students choose from among 8 profiles and are presented with artifacts and context connected to the profile of their choosing.
  • A series of professional development videos offering teachers frameworks and strategies for teaching with artifacts.
  • Stand-alone artifact galleries to be used with students, offering supports for teachers to utilize the strategies presented in the PD video series.


Since publication in December 2018, the collection has been viewed by over 60,000 users and garnered more than 100,000 pageviews.

An attendee to a webinar for educators about the collection said...

I really like the format of the resources, with outlines, questions, videos, and interactives. Clearly this was well-researched, and leads to easy teaching!

Contact Us: education@wgbh.org.