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Chronological Reasoning and Causation

Neutrality or Mobilization?

  1. Load The Hindenburg, Lakehurst, NJ, 1936 in Main Image Viewer
  2. Load Senior Outlines Duties of Youth After War in Main Image Viewer
  3. Load Shortages of Labor in Non Defense Field in Main Image Viewer
  4. Load Plan For Discussion of Nazi Propaganda in Main Image Viewer
  5. Load List of Volunteers Requested By County Council For Defense in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions


This activity can be c0mpleted on Consider the Source, or on the attached Google Doc.

Google Doc:

Title: Neutrality or Mobilization?

  • How were ordinary Americans dealing with the world in the summer of 1941 before Pearl Harbor. Did New Yorkers-Americans believe America should remain neutral or should America choose sides and prepare for war? Most Americans think that America's involvement in World War II began after Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1941. A closer look shows that although government mobilization efforts began with Lend Lease in  March 1941, public opinion began to shift away from neutrality to not only choosing sides but mobilizing for war. 

  • Timeline

  • 1933:   Hitler comes to power in Germany

  • 1935:   Neutrality Act of 1935

  • 1937:   Japan invades China 

  • 1938:   Hitler annexes Austria, Sudetenland

  • 1939:   Nazi-Soviet Pact Germany invades Poland/beginning of World War II

  • 1940:   Roosevelt re-elected for third term American Selective Service plan instituted

  • 1940:   June–The Germans captured Paris,  On June 22, 1940 France fell to Nazi Germany. 

  • 1940:   July : The Battle of Britain began and the British are fighting for their lives. 

  • 1941:   March,  Lend-Lease Act; Military mobilization and assistance begins for Britain and American allies. (America reduced Military spending in the 1920s and needed to rebuild.  

  • 1941:   December 7th : Japanese attack Pearl Harbor/United States officially enters World War II Germany declares war on United States

  • Key-Terms and Concepts 

  • Lend-Lease Act: President Roosevelt pushed for this legislation. Following two months of debate, Congress passed the Lend-Lease Act, meeting Great Britain’s deep need for supplies and allowing the United States to prepare for war while remaining officially neutral. 

  • Civilian mobilization: A process of getting a state-country from peace to war.  

  • Industrial mobilization: Civilian economy to wartime work and production. civilian production to wartime production 

  • Isolationism: a foreign policy of remaining apart from political or economic entanglements with other countries.  Strict isolationists do not support any type of contact with other countries, including economic ties or trade activities. 

  • Neutrality: a foreign policy where a country does not help or support either side in a conflict. The reasoning behind this is to avoid conflict and war.
    Fascism: Totalitarian, nationalistic form of government run by a dictator. In Germany and also Italy totalitarian governments (total control over every aspect of a person’s life as a result they eliminate freedom and rights and crush any opposition) were established based on the philosophy of fascism.  

Overview: Describes the lesson in a few sentences.

  • This is a document based lesson in which students will analyze primary documents and then work with questions related to these documents to prompt discussion and reflection.

Goal: Students will be able to take a stand on why New Yorkers were mobilizing for war in the summer of 1941 through the analysis of documents, discussion, and reflection.

Objectives: Students will be able to write a brief essay and explain their stances on the following questions.

Why were New Yorkers mobilizing–preparing for war in the summer of 1941? 

How did mobilization for war before December 7th 1941 impact the New York economy?

Investigative (Compelling) Question: Why were New Yorkers mobilizing–preparing for war in the summer of 1941? 

 Time Required

  • 1-2 Class Periods

 Recommended Grade Range

  • High School Social Studies

 Subject: Social Studies


11.8. WORLD WAR II (1935 – 1945): The participation of the United States in World War II was a transformative event for the nation and its role in the world. (Standards: 1, 2; Themes: TCC, GOV, CIV, TECH) 11.8a, 11.8b

Credits: Howard Marcus


Materials Used: 

Document 1:

Document 2:

Document 3:

Document 4:

Document 5:

Resources Used:


Description of Procedure:


  1. Review the provided timeline and Key-terms with the class

  2. Begin the Warm-Up, provide the class with the warm-up discussion question: “How are you all personally experiencing the events taking place around the world today or even here at home? What international events concern you? How about the Russian invasion of Ukraine? North Korea firing missiles and Iran’s development of an atomic weapon? Should the United States be neutral in regards to the Russia–Ukraine war? “

  3. Begin the Do-Now section. Provide the class with Document A ( and ask them to answer the questions that follow.

  4. Begin the activity portion, distribute documents 2-4 to your class and have them answer the questions and complete the exit ticket that accompanies them.

  5. As students are working through the documents, make sure to circulate around the room answering any questions, and gauging their success in analyzing the primary sources.

  6. As students wrap up their document work, transition into the discussion phase. Ask the following questions: How important are individuals like Patricia Schumacher to history? Look back on Document A from 1936. Do you think New Yorkers and Americans should've realized the dangers that Hitler and the Nazi’s represented and what they were up to? Why? What changed? Do you think most New Yorkers were preparing and mobilizing for war with Japan or Nazi Germany or both? Why? How do times of difficulty and adversity bring out the best and worst in people? Compare what was happening throughout these documents to the Covid Pandemic in terms of bringing out the best and worst in people. 

  7. Use this discussion period to help students gather information and evidence for their upcoming writing task. 

  8. Assist students through the writing process if needed.

  9. Distribute the final source to your students as homework for regents review.



Successful Completion of the Exit Ticket

Successful Completion of the Regents Review