Core Documents Collection: The Cold War

This collection of documents on the Cold War continues TeachingAmericanHistory.org’s extended series of document collections covering major periods, themes and institutions in American history and government. The volume covers American aid to Europe in the early years of the Cold War and American intervention in subsequent years in conflicts around the world to contain the spread of Soviet power. Its documents also explore the dometic effects of the Cold War, chronicling how national security concerns affected relations between American citizens and between Americans and their government. Each volume includes:

Key documents on the period, theme or institution, selected by an expert and reviewed by an editorial board
A thematic table of contents, showing the connections between various documents
Study questions for each document as well as questions that refer to other documents in the collection
Notes on each document to identify people, events, movements, or ideas to improve understanding of the document’s historical context

Grades 12, 10, 11
History
Modules (Teaching Unit)

Major Events of the Cold War

In this lesson, students will use short video clips to learn about major events occurring during the Cold War, the causes of these events, and their impact on the U.S., Soviet Union, and the world. Students will summarize this information by providing a written response that analyzes the legacy of the Cold War.

Grades 11, 12, 9, 10
History
Media

Cold War Document Based Question

Utilizing primary source documents from the archives of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, and Reagan, this piece of curriculum is modeled after the Advanced Placement Document Based Questions. This question invites students to explore U.S. Cold War foreign policy through the lens the office of the presidency, and to develop crucial critical thinking and writing skills.

Provide for the General Welfare – Interstate Highway and Defense Act

In the Constitution, Congress is charged with providing for the general welfare of the country’s
citizens. Historically, this has meant improving transportation, promoting agriculture
and industry, protecting health and the environment and seeking ways to solve social and
economic problems. In 1956, Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, popularly known as the National Interstate and Defense Highways Act, authorizing federal funding for the extension and
construction of a robust network of interstate highways. This project was one of the largest public
works in U.S. history establishing key transportation infrastructure that impacted lives of all
Americans — changing communities, access and economic possibilities and also providing key
routes for evacuating urban centers — a critical national defense issue in the Cold War era.
Analyzing primary source material, students discuss the origins and reasons for the National
Interstate and Defense Highways Act. Then, they work with historical and contemporary maps
as they consider the impact this important congressionally funded project. While intended for 8th
grade students, the lesson can be adapted for other grade levels.

America and Red Scare

The Cold War was sparked by the immediate aftermath of World War II. The Allied Forces were divided by ideology and quickly separated into two camps: the Western democracies, led by the United States, and the Communist nations, dominated by the Soviet Union. This alignment served as the basic framework of the Cold War over the next fifty years, from 1947-1991. As America positioned itself in opposition to totalitarian regimes, American citizens were forced to confront realities of what “freedom” meant, or should mean.

Grades 9-12
Federal Government
Primary Sources