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World War I

World War I (WWI), also called the Great War or the War to End All Wars, gave dramatic close to the prosperous “Bourgeois Century” during which Europe had not seen a major military conflict since the fall of Napoleon in 1815. Nearly all the wealth that was created in the 19th century was destroyed by Europe’s first industrial, scientific, and total war.

The Allied Powers including France, the British Empire, Russia, Italy, etc. suffered 22,422,477,500 casualties while the Central Powers including Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire, etc. suffered 16,403,000. The war’s wrecking power bought an end to four great empires: The German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman Empires. Further devastation occurred following WWI when the Spanish Flu killed three to five percent of the world’s population.

The results of WWI gave lie to Wilsonian claims that the Allies were fighting to, “End all wars” and “Make the world safe for democracy.” The war and its peace caused the United Kingdom to enter a 20-year great depression starting in 1918, opened the door for communism in Russia (later leading to the Cold War), and the rise of fascism in Italy and Germany (leading to WWII). The Great War was arguably the most significant event of the 20th century, and its peace led WWI Supreme Allied Commander Marshal Foch to accurately predict, “This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.”

Timeline 1914 - 1918 (Background Information 1870 - 1923)
Grades 6 - 12
Characters 39
Number of Timeline Events 205
Duration 2 weeks to 1 semester

$10.00$5.00 / Student

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Sample Timeline Events
(1870 to 1905 to January 22, 1905)

Broad Background

(1870 to 1905)

Over the decades, and indeed the last century, a long-term analysis explains why two sets of rival powers – Germany and Austria-Hungary versus Russia, France, and Great Britain – will come into conflict. There are political, territorial and economic conflicts, militarism, a complex web of alliances, imperialism, increasing nationalism, and a power vacuum left by the decline of the Ottoman Empire. Other important structural factors are territorial disputes, a perceived breakdown of the balance of power, convoluted and fragmented governance, the arms races of the previous decades, especially in navies, and military planning. There have been a series of diplomatic clashes among the Great Powers (Italy, France, Germany, Britain, Austria-Hungary and Russia) over European and colonial issues in recent decades that have left tensions high. In turn these public clashes can be traced to changes in the balance of power in Europe since Napoleonic times and through the unifications of Italy and Germany after the upheavals of the Europe-wide revolutions of 1848-49. It has been nearly a century since a truly major war has occurred in Europe.

McKinley Assassinated!

(September 14, 1901)

William McKinley, the first president of the Fourth Party System has been assassinated by anarchist Leon Czolgosz! McKinley was first elected in an 1896 landslide victory over incumbent candidate Grover Cleveland while the country was struggling through a depresssion. Following his election, he led the U.S. to victory over Spain. Now just six months after McKinley's second inauguration, he was shot twice in the abdomen while attending the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York. McKinley passes away today, six days after the incident.

Second Boer War Ends in South Africa

(May 31, 1902)

After a very bloody, and very costly war, the Dutch Boers of South Africa surrender to the British today ending the three year conflict. In the end, Britain resorts to concentration camps surrounded by barbed wire, and scorched earth tactics to drive the relatively small number of Boers to the peace table. Many British officers gain valuable experience in the war and the hard-fighting South Africans become good members of the Empire by 1910.

Wright Brothers Take to The Sky

(December 17, 1903)

The race to be first in flight has just been won by Wilbur and Orville Wright! Working out of their bicycle mechanic shop, the Wright Brothers have just bested astronomer, physicist, inventor, and better-financed Samuel Langley, whom everyone thought would be first to create a flying machine. With a year's headstart, Langley who received $50,000 from the War Department and $20,000 from the Smithsonian, fearing the safety of flying overland spent half his money on a houseboat and catapult to launch his plane over water. The catapult brought severe strain upon the aircraft, causing the pilot of Langley's plane to nearly drown when the craft when tumbling into the Potomac. Today just nine days following the Langley disaster, the self-financed Wright Brothers, having incentives to be efficient and keep costs down, innovated propeller design, and remained in flight for 59 seconds! Their plane cost them just over $1,000.

Ice Cream Cones Debut At St. Louis World's Fair

(April 30, 1904)

The Louisiana Purchase Exposition, informally known as the St. Louis World's Fair, is an international exposition held in St. Louis, Missouri beginning today and will run through December. More than 60 countries and 43 of the 45 American states maintain exhibition spaces at the fair, which will be attended by nearly 19.7 million people. The prominence of themes of race and empire, and the fair's long-lasting impact on intellectuals in the fields of history, art history, architecture and anthropology will prove crucial while from the point of view of the memory of the average person who attended the fair, it primarily promotes entertainment, consumer goods and popular culture. Some inventions first seen or made popular at the fair include: personal auto, airplane, x-ray machine, wireless telephone, fascimile (fax) machine, baby incubator, and electric streetcar. Foods introduced or popularized include: waffle ice cream cone, Dr Pepper, Puffed Wheat and hamburgers and hot dogs along with cotton candy. The song "Meet Me in St Louis" becomes a renowned hit.

"Bloody Sunday" Massacre in St. Petersburg

(January 22, 1905)

Unarmed protestors lead by Father Gregory Gapon have been gunned down in the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia, attempting to present a petition to the Czar! The Russian Revolution of 1905 has begun!


Unit Personas

1. Aleksei Brusilov 21. Herbert Asquith
2. Alvin York 22. Jan Smuts
3. Aristide Briand 23. John Pershing
4. Conrad von Hotzendorf 24. Kaiser William II
5. Czar Nicholas II 25. Kemal Ataturk
6. David Lloyd George 26. Mahatma Gandhi
7. Dorothy Lawrence 27. Marshal Joffre
8. Douglas Haig 28. Mata Hari
9. Eddie Rickenbacker 29. Otto Liman von Sanders
10. Elizabeth Bessie Coleman 30. Paul von Hindenburg
11. Emperor Franz Joseph 31. Quentin Roosevelt
12. Erich Ludendorff 32. Red Baron
13. Erich Maria Remarque 33. Siegfried Sassoon
14. Ernest Hemingway 34. Sun yat Sen
15. Ferdinand Foch 35. Vittorio Emanuele Orlando
16. George Bernard Shaw 36. Vladimir Lenin
17. Georges Clemenceau 37. von Falkenhayn
18. George S. Patton 38. Winston Churchill
19. Grigori Rasputin 39. Woodrow Wilson
20. Henri Petain


Each Discourse unit provides an interactive, social media platform and accompanying curriculum to create a collaborative and entertaining educational experience.

Each unit includes the following:

  • Unit overview
  • 30-40 characters for students to role-play
  • Timeline Events that not only focus on the relevant events of the unit in study, but also encompass the cultural and broader events of the time period, thus providing context for the unit
  • Breaking News events with original source documents
  • Profile information about each character (teacher only)
  • Page for students to determine their relationships to each other character in the unit (auto-graded)
  • Period-relevant items for students to Like or Dislike based on their character (auto-graded)
  • Opportunity for students to create events and send private messages while role-playing their character
  • Advertisements appropriate for the time period; some include original video or music
  • Grading matrix for the role-playing (auto-completed as applicable)
  • A game-like trophy system that awards student progress
  • Teacher product instructions
  • Student use instructions
  • Teachers have access to the Discourse unit and students’ work for one year after the initial set-up date.
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