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This issue of Smithsonian in Your Classroom features American war-effort posters from the collections of the National Museum of American History. Drawing on the techniques of advertising, such posters “helped to mobilize a nation,” write Smithsonian historians William L. Bird, Jr., and Harry Rubenstein. “Inexpensive, accessible, and ever-present, the poster was an ideal agent for making war aims the personal mission of every citizen.” In the issue’s lesson, students learn about life in a time of national emergency by examining five full-page reproductions of posters, each of which urges civilians to take some kind of voluntary action—to buy savings bonds, to plant vegetable gardens, to conserve materials, to give their all at the factory. The class considers the meaning of citizenship by focusing on an “essential question”: How does volunteering demonstrate civic responsibility? The lesson is part of a unit created by the Comprehensive Social Studies Assessment Project of the Council of Chief State School Officers titled “Liberty and Citizenship,” .
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