Legislative Branch

From the Cold War to Camp David: Reviewing U.S. Foreign Policy in Post-World War II Era (1948 – 1979)


In this lesson students will analyze primary source documents from the National Archives to review four major topics in U.S. History from 1948 - 1979.


Students develop critical thinking skills by analyzing primary source documents representing four major issues from the Cold War Era to Camp David.

Guiding Question:

How do the foreign policy issues of the decades after World War show the interaction of American foreign policy and world events?


4 Graphic Organizers
12 Primary Source Documents
Reflection Questions Worksheet

Recommended Grade Levels:

Grades 7-12


U.S. History

Topics Included in this Lesson:

international diplomacy; U.S. economic foreign policy; the Cold War; the Middle East; Arab-Israel conflict; diplomacy

Learning Activities:

Preparing the Materials

  1. Make one copy of the four Graphic Organizers and the Reflection Question Worksheet for each student.
  2. Establish four stations, one for each of the Graphic Organizers.
  3. Make one additional copy of the Graphic Organizer to provide a page for each station.
  4. Make one copy of the Primary Source Sheets and cut along the dotted lines of each sheet. Keep each primary source, caption, and description together with a paper clip.
  5. Place a copy of one Graphic Organizer and the related cut-outs at each station. Mix up the primary sources, captions, and descriptions at the station so that students must match the ideas together. Note: Non-image documents should be printed in larger format or projected at the stations for greater legibility. (Use the NAID number to locate each source in the National Archives online catalog.)

Classroom Activity

  1. Divide the students into four groups.
  2. Carousel the groups through the four stations.
  3. Provide each group with enough time at each station for students to:
    1. Match each primary source to a description and write a summary of the description in the appropriate box on their individual Graphic Organizer.
    2. Match each primary source to a caption and write the caption on their individual Graphic Organizer. Note: Having previously read and summarized the description will provide scaffolded support.
    3. Explain how each primary source matches a caption by filling in the appropriate box on their individual Graphic Organizer.
  4. When each group has completed work at their fourth station, distribute the Reflection Question Worksheet. Instruct the students complete it based on their work at all four stations.

Reflection Activity

  1. When the groups have completed the four graphic organizers, instruct each student to work individually to complete the Reflection Questions Worksheet and prepare to share their responses with the full class.
  2. Have a whole group discussion of the Reflection Questions.

Return to Lesson Plans

If you have problems viewing this page, please contact legislative.archives@nara.gov.