Pearl Harbor Primary Sources & Teaching Activities

As the Pearl Harbor anniversary approaches, we’re sharing historical documents, posters, photographs, and more related to the attack and its impact on U.S. History.

On DocsTeach, the online tool for teaching with documents from the National Archives, you can find primary sources like maps and speeches – even images taken by the Japanese military during the attack that were later captured.

Captured Japanese Photograph Taken during the Attack on Pearl Harbor, 12/7/1941. From the General Records of the Department of the Navy.

DocsTeach also includes posters that used the attack on Pearl Harbor as a rallying cry for a variety of war efforts, like joining the Coast Guard, buying war bonds, or working harder in a factory.

We also have online teaching activities related to Pearl Harbor. In Pearl Harbor Dispatch Analysis, students analyze the “This is Not Drill” naval dispatch sent from the Commander in Chief of the Pacific that announced the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The activity forces students to look for evidence to decode the true meaning of the message.

Or students can explore one of the most famous presidential speeches of all time – FDR’s “Day of Infamy” speech – by comparing it with its first draft in Two Versions of FDR’s Infamy Speech.

Can you find the first major edit?

Annotated Draft of Proposed Message to Congress Requesting Declaration of War Against Japan, 12/7/1941. From the Collection FDR-FDRMSF: Franklin D. Roosevelt Master Speech Files.

DocsTeach also includes audio, like this recording of FDR’s Fireside Chat After the Declaration of War on Japan

You can find more of FDR’s Fireside Chats on DocsTeach as well.

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