CNN: Cold War Documentary Series ★★★★★
This 24-episode documentary series originally aired on CNN in 1998. It explores the Cold War experience from many different angles, offering valuable perspectives from those who lived through it. Below are links to the episodes and brief summaries of their content. Each episode is around 45 minutes in length.
- Episode One: Comrades 1917-1945
This presentation displays the U.S and Russia as allies through video interview with George Kennan, a tour of a Cold War prison, historical documents, and more.
- Episode Two: The Iron Curtain 1945-1947
This presentation provides an overview of the Iron Curtain through a Cold War military museum, a Brinkmanship interactive game, a video interview with George Kennan, a spotlight on the Oder-Niesse Line, a look at post Cold War US-Russian relations, and more.
- Episode Three: The Marshall Plan 1947-1952
Presents a brinkmanship simulation, a feature on the birth of the CIA, an analysis of the IMF, discussion of the Czech coup in 1948, and more.
- Episode Four: Berlin 1948-1949
Features a West German radio report, reflections of a Berlin mayor, a look at propaganda, a brinkmanship simulation, and more
- Episode Five: Korea 1949-1953
The special features of this program include spotlights on the Russian connection, the continuing divide between North and South Korea, a look at America’s Korean War memorial, a brinkmanship game, interviews, and more
- Episode Six: Reds 1948-1949
Based on the Intensification of the Cold War, this presentation features a look at the Red Scare then and now, the United States Communist Party, and totalitarianism, and it has an excerpt from Daniel Moynihan’s “Secrecy”.
- Episode Seven: After Stalin 1953-1956
This presentation features reflections by Krushchev’s son and sections on Kremlin power struggles, NATO’s importance, and a German radio report.
- Episode Eight: After Sputnik 1949-1961
Explores the new arms race launched by the Soviet atomic bomb. There are features on espionage, Russia’s space exploits, and an interactive timeline.
- Episode Nine: The Wall 1959-1963
Explores shootings at the Wall, U.S. unpreparedness, and offers some reflections on the wall.
- Episode Ten: Cuba 1959-1968
Features the ExComm files, the hot line between Kennedy and Khrushchev, contemporary Cuba and an interview with Fidel Castro
- Episode Eleven: Vietnam 1954-1968
Includes a Spotlight on Dien Bien Phu and sections on changing media-military rules and the “living room” war.
- Episode Twelve: MAD 1960-1972
Examines “mutual world destruction” and the escalating arms race.
- Episode Thirteen: Make Love, Not War :The Sixties
Spotlights the draft, music, the “silent majority” and protests.
- Episode Fourteen: Red Spring The Sixties
Features the sexual revolution, the rehabilitation of communism, and a look at an ex-patriot Soviet artist.
- Episode Fifteen: China 1949-1972
Spotlights Kissinger’s secret talks with Mao, the conflict between Beijing and Moscow, as well as “ping pong” diplomacy and US-China rapprochement.
- Episode Sixteen: Detente 1969-1975
Features a Brezhnev confidant, critiques of detente, and space cooperation.
- Episode Seventeen: Good Guys, Bad Guys 1967-1978
Examines the African Renaissance, mercenaries for hire, and the Arab-Israeli peace process.
- Episode Eighteen: Backyard 1954-1990
This presentation talks about Central America, the Caribbean, and South America as battleground, examining the School of Americas, the plan to fund the Contras in Nicaragua, and conflicts in Mexico.
- Episode Nineteen: Freeze 1977-1981
Features sections on the Carter-Brezhnev years, John Paul II toppling the communist domino, politics of European security, and missile diplomacy.
- Episode Twenty: Soldiers of God 1975-1988
This presentation talks about the Afghan Civil War and the crumbling detente with sections on the Olympic games, Afghan legacy, and Russian pain.
- Episode Twenty One: Spies 1945-1900
Stories of dead spies, finding good spies, counterintelligence, and continuing espionage.
- Episode Twenty Two: Star Wars 1980–1988
Includes excerpts of interviews, a transcript of Reagan’s “Star Wars” Speech, and a section on “War Games”.
- Episode Twenty Three: The Wall Comes Down 1989
Features a slide show of lifting the Iron Curtain in 1989 and sections on reformers in Hungary, the surprise of the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the chaos in Russia during the last years of the Cold War.
- Episode Twenty Four: Conclusions
Features a section on what the war cost, memories from the Cold War, and an excerpt from the book After The Cold War.
People’s Century (PBS) ★★★★★
The site is based on a 26-episode television series and features a teacher’s guide, a timeline, a thematic overview, and RealAudio excerpts. Select programs:
- Young Blood: 1950-1975 (PBS)
Focus is on the youth movement in America in 1960s
- Brave New World: 1945-1961 (PBS)
Site probes the changing world order after WWII and the emergence of Cold War
- Fallout: 1945-1995 (PBS)
Examines the atomic age in the Cold War era
- Picture Power: 1939-1997 (PBS)
Probes how television transformed society, culture, and politics
- Boomtime: 1945-1973 (PBS)
Examines how postwar prosperity transformed lifestyles and cultural values in the United States and abroad
World on the Brink: Thirteen Days in 1962 ★★★★★
This polished and eye-catching presentation takes students through every stage of the Cuban Missile crisis, one delicate day at a time. The experience makes good use of historical maps, photographs, and audio recordings.
Cuban Missile Crisis Interactive ★★★★☆
This interactive module puts students in the role of John F. Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis. After listening to advisors and getting briefed on the situation, students may select one of five possible responses and see how their choices impact history.
Cold War International History Project ★★★★☆
The Cold War International History Project features new evidence from Central and Eastern European archives of the Cold War in Asia. It also offers a CD-ROM on “Bulgaria and the Cold War.” You can also learn about George Washington University’s NEH-supported collaboration to train high school teachers in recent advances in Cold War historiography. The CWIHP Bulletin contains recently released and translated documents from former Communist-world archives, along with brief introductions by leading Cold War historians and archivists.
**Cold War: From Yalta to Malta ★★★★☆
Note: This CNN special has been retired by CNN.com. Since it is a valuable resource we are linking you to its archived pages at the Internet Archive.
The Race to Build the Atomic Bomb — A Resource for Students and Teachers ★★★★☆
The Race to Build the Atomic Bomb: A Resource for Teachers and Students was produced by the Contra Costa County Office of Education. It provides information on the men who built the Atomic Bomb and the urgency and circumstances surrounding its construction. Categories include: Timeline, Competition, Exodus of Scientists, Physics, Those Responsible, Research, Lesson Plans, and Resources.
The Marshall Plan ★★★★☆
To mark the fiftieth anniversary of Marshall’s speech, the Library of Congress presents this display on the origins and effects of the Marshall Plan. It features photographs and cartoons from the Prints and Photographs Division and items from the papers of Averell Harriman, the ERP special representative in Europe from 1948 to 1950.
John F. Kennedy Library and Museum ★★★★☆
The museum offers speeches, official documents, photographs, and more from the presidency of John F. Kennedy
Well organized overview of the Watergate scandal.
1968: The Whole World Was Watching (Brown U.) ★★★★☆
An oral history project that features recollections of a group of Rhode Islanders regarding pivotal events and issues in 1968
The Face of Russia (PBS) ★★★★☆
This informative PBS site attempts to answer the question: Who are the Russian People? There is a timeline, glossary, bibliography, media index, links, lesson plans, and a chat forum.
Space Race ★★★☆☆
Explores military origins of the space race and provides a gallery map and more. From the National Air and Space Museum.
Studs Terkel: Conversations ★★★☆☆
Produced by the Chicago Historical Society, this site explores the life and work of Studs Terkel, an important American oral historian. Galleries focus on interviews that Mr. Terkel did for his books and also the site also contains a multimedia interview with him.
Soviet Archives Exhibit ★★★☆☆
Site contains declassified Soviet documents from 1917 to 1991
The Wars for Vietnam ★★★☆☆
This site was produced by students out of Vassar college and provides an overview of the Vietnam war, primary documents and photos, and links to other related sites
Battlefield: Vietnam (PBS) ★★★☆☆
A companion to the PBS video program, this site features a brief historical introduction, a battlefield timeline, an expose on guerrilla tactics, a look at the siege of Khe Sanh, and other resources.
Vietnam Online (PBS) ★★★☆☆
Another PBS Online site, this features an introduction to the conflict, reflections of the participants, a timeline, a who’s who, and more.
LBJ in the Oval Office ★★★☆☆
At this site, you can listen to some President Lyndon Johnson’s most important speeches and secretly recorded conversations.
Revisiting Watergate ★★★☆☆
A 1997 Washington Post supplement marking the 25th anniversary of the Watergate burglary. Features include bios of the key figures involved in the affair and a discussion of the impact of the scandal.
AllPolitics: Watergate ★★★☆☆
A CNN-Time project that relies on Time’s coverage of the scandal.
The Reagan Years ★★★☆☆
A CNN.com special report on the Reagan Presidency. Try using a different browser if the page does not load when using Chrome. Incognito mode might also work.
The Gulf War (PBS) ★★★☆☆
Site explores the war through case studies, images, sound files and more
CIA World Factbook 1998 ★★★☆☆
The Factbook is a great starting point for amassing general information about individual countries.
Race for the Super Bomb (PBS) ★★★☆☆
There are some quirky but interesting features at this site, including a panic quiz and a Nuclear Blast Map. You will also be treated to interviews, film footage of explosions, a map of target sites in the U.S., a weapons stockpile list for 1945 to 1997, a timeline, primary sources, transcripts, a teacher’s guide, and a people and events section.
The Living Weapon (PBS) ★★★☆☆
The American Experience presents “The Living Weapon” from PBS. This series explores the highly classified biological weapons program begun in 1942 under President Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt’s decision to embark on the program demonstrated American willingness “to use a kind of weapon that military leaders had long shunned as dishonorable.” The companion web site also outlines the history and development of diseases that could be used to destroy a city and unveils “Operation Whitecoat,” a Cold War project using Seventh day Adventists as human subjects in the country’s biological weapons program. Visitors to the companion web site can also listen to the lead researcher’s recollections on developing biological weapons and view a map of America’s bioweapons program. In all, the Living Weapon series and web site could serve as an excellent inter-disciplinary introduction to today’s concerns over the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
The Cold War: America During the 1950s (Lesson Plan)
A mid-level lesson plan, this outline is for 7th and 8th graders. Through the creation of a “guide book,” students learn about what America was like during the 1950s and the Cold War. Students work in small groups and conduct a “WebQuest.”
Follow the Marx: Learning About Communism
In this New York Times lesson, students explore communism from historical and theoretical perspectives to present to fellow classmates at a teach-in.(September 9, 2002)
Intervene or Interfere? Exploring Forty Years of United States Intervention in Foreign Affairs
In this lesson, students will research the motives, actions, and results of U.S. intervention in foreign affairs between the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the 2003 invasion of Iraq; they then present their research to class for comparative analysis.(April 7, 2003)
Drums of War: Exploring How Politics Shapes American War Policy
In this New York Times lesson, students will research the political climate prior to major American wars of the past, then reflect on the current call for power to confront Iraq.(September 23, 2002)
Lesson Plan: Constitutional Issues – Watergate and the Constitution
This NARA lesson plan gives teachers a chance to explain the Watergate incident to students. The Teacher’s guide has three different activities that stimulate discussions on the Constitution and the legal system. Grades 6-12.
Lesson Plan: The Sixties
This activity explores emotions of eagerness, frustration, betrayal, community, and compassion during the 1960s. Students will explore this entire document, including all the links, and write a 5-page paper or an equivalent web page (no frills necessary except links) where they take up a position and perspective chosen from the four options provided. Written by Eileen Walsh, Bemidji State University.
Has the Wall Truly Tumbled Down?
The NY Times has created this lesson plan to spur debate on the division in Berlin. Students will learn about the wall itself and what Berlin is like now that the wall is down. Recommended for 11th grade.
Digital History Resource Guides
The Digital Resource Guides provides links to American history web sites by period and provide historical overviews, readings (online textbook chapter, Reader’s Companion), primary source documents (documents, maps, cartoons), teaching resources (chronologies, maps, quizzes), audio-visual resources, and additional resources. It is an excellent and comprehensive teaching resource.
On the Brink of Nuclear War: Leadership and the Cuban Missile Crisis
A short lesson plan for grades 9-12 that introduces students to the Cuban Missile Crisis and asks them to analyze the roles of Castro, Kennedy, and Khrushchev in the affair. Created by The Choices Program at Brown University.
The Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962: The Missiles of October
In this EdSiteMent lesson plan, students use government documents, the opinions of top advisors, and then-classified photographs to put themselves in the role of Kennedy and decide on the proper response. Students are then guided to discuss how the crisis came to be, how the real-life Kennedy administration reacted, to the situation, and how the crisis was eventually resolved.
Interpreting Primary Sources
Digital History provides brief excerpts from primary sources and statistics on slavery and questions to think about The Atomic Bomb and the Origins of the Cold War
The World in Uncertain Times, 1950-Present Practice Test
High School level quiz on Cold War America from Prentice Hall.
The World in Uncertain Times, 1950-Present Document Based Essay
This Prentice Hall DBQ is designed to test your ability to work with historical documents and is based on the accompanying documents (1-6).
HistoryTeacher.net: AP United States History Quizzes 1920-1970
A New York teacher has produced a great general site for history teachers that offers AP-level United States history quizzes on many different periods and topics.
The American Nation: Internet Activities
Prentice Hall’s phschool.com offers internet activities based on their The American Nation textbook chapters. Middle School grades.
A History of the United States: Internet Activities and Student Self Test Questions
Prentice Hall’s phschool.com offers internet activities and interactive quizzes based on A History of the United States textbook chapters. High School.
The VietNam Pictures Archives
These archives consist of a number of JPEGs and GIFs, MIDI sequences, and RealAudio clips.