Churchill Archive for Schools offers teaching and learning resources designed to support teachers and engage students of history at secondary level. The resource also provides a gateway into the complete Churchill Archive (available free to schools following registration). It covers topics that are central to:

  • UK history courses including the National Curricula for History at Key Stage 3, all GCSE and A Level history courses and Scottish Highers. Studying primary sources relating to these topics is especially relevant to the GCSE environment study and A-level coursework, both of which require students to understand and interpret primary sources.
  • United States and Canadian AP courses in World History, European History and English Language & Composition. The Document Based Question element of the AP World History and AP European History exam accounts for 25% of the overall grade. Teachers at all grade levels have found that using primary source documents is an effective way to teach CCSS Anchor Literacy Skill #9: Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.
  • The IB Diploma History Internal Assessment is worth 25% of a Standard Level learner’s final grade, and 20% of a Higher Level learner’s final grade. Churchill Archive for Schools supports all 3 sections of the IA: Identification and evaluation of sources; Investigation (including building an argument using primary and secondary sources) and Reflection (which relates to the methods used by historians and the challenges they face.)

Teachers can use a range of investigations to explore the educational potential of the Archive. Each one sets an overarching enquiry question for the students to consider, accompanied by a selection of documents from the Archive, as well as short essay introductions to each topic, teachers' notes and extra questions to help understand each primary source.

The enquiries have been split into four different categories:

To explore the investigations, browse the Table of Contents on the left or scroll down for descriptions of the content.

Key questions in modern world history

What went wrong at Gallipoli in 1915?

When the First World War broke out in July 1914 the general feeling was that it would be over by the end of that year. However, as 1914 turned into 1915 it was clear this wasn’t the case. On the Western Front in particular, the fighting had ground to a stalemate, and the casualties continued to rise.

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Did people agree with Churchill's stand on appeasement?

The 1930s were a dark time in the world’s history. The worldwide economic depression caused widespread hardship and misery around the world. It also led to the rise of aggressive regimes in Japan, Italy and Germany.

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Why did the Allies find it hard to agree about a Second Front in the Second World War?

During the Second World War in Europe the majority of the fighting took place on the Eastern Front, between Germany and her allies and the forces of the Soviet Union. Germany invaded the USSR in 1941 and a bitter struggle followed which ended in Berlin in 1945.

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Was Churchill really worried about the Battle of the Atlantic? And if so, why?

The Battle of the Atlantic ran from September 1939 right through until May 1945. Supplies of food and essential war materials from the rest of the world were essential in order to keep Britain’s war effort alive. As in the First World War, Germany used all-out submarine warfare in an attempt to starve Britain into submission.

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Could Britain have done more to help the Jews in the Second World War?

Most people are aware of the horrific fate suffered by around 6 million Jews and other persecuted groups in the Nazi genocide during the Second World War. Debate has swung back and forth about what the Allies knew about what was happening and also whether they could have taken more actions than they did.

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Did the League of Nations matter in the 1920s?

The League does not enjoy a favourable historical reputation. However, this may not be entirely fair. It has been criticised for failing to stop aggressive regimes in Japan, Italy and Germany in the 1930s. This is justifiable to some extent, but have the failures of the 1930s obscured the work of the League in the 1920s?

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What was the significance of Pearl Harbor?

On 7 December 1941, over 350 Japanese aircraft attacked the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This was a devastating shock to the US, but was it more than just an attack on US naval forces?

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Atomic bomb

Did nuclear weapons help to make the world safer between 1945 and 1951?

The development of the atomic bomb during the Second World War ushered in tremendous change on the world stage. To many, it seemed that the development of nuclear weapons made the post-war world a more dangerous place, although many historians now argue that the opposite was in fact true.

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Churchill and the Cold War: Why did Churchill make his famous ‘Iron Curtain’ speech in 1946?

Most historians would agree that a key event in the emerging Cold War was Winston Churchill’s ‘Iron curtain’ speech. This speech was hugely controversial and Josef Stalin wrote a direct response to it. Churchill must have known the likely reaction from the world, so why did he write it?

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Who deserves the credit for developing the tank?

The First World War began in August 1914, and by the autumn of that year it had reached a stalemate. Many new weapons were eventually developed and used on the Western Front, but perhaps the most effective, at least from late 1917, was the tank. The success of the tank led mainly to try to claim the credit for its development and introduction. So who can we say deserves most credit for developing the tank, if anyone?

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Key questions in modern British and empire history

Why did British politicians see the need for welfare reforms in the early 1900s?

In the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an important change in attitude was taking place in Britain with respect to the lives and conditions of the poorest in society. In the past, the poor had generally been blamed for their own problems. But attitudes began to change.

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Was Britain divided about Indian independence, 1930-47?

By the 1930s Britain had been ruling India for over a hundred and fifty years in one form or another. Most of the subcontinent was ruled directly by British officials while other areas were ruled by princes who were allied to the British. But British rule hadn’t gone unopposed.

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Did the Suffragettes help or harm the cause of women’s suffrage?

In the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries one of the most high profile political questions concerned whether or not women should get the vote. Women had been campaigning for the vote from the mid-1800s or even earlier.

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Key questions in twentieth century Anglo-American relations

What does the Korean War reveal about the ‘special relationship’?

In 1950, war broke out between North and South Korea. During the Second World War, Korea had been ruled by the Japanese. When the Japanese were defeated in 1945 the northern half of Korea became Communist, closely linked to the USSR and later, to Communist China.

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Just how special was the ‘special relationship’ in the Second World War? (Part 1, 1939–41)

The US and the UK have often been said to have a special relationship based on a common language, religious and political beliefs and a close trading relationship. They’ve also been military allies in the First and Second World Wars. But what was the real nature of this relationship during the Second World War?

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Just how special was the ‘special relationship’ in the Second World War? (Part 2, 1942–44)

Would the entry of the USA into the war change the ‘special relationship’ between the USA and the UK? Could it be an equal and friendly partnership? Would the larger, richer and more powerful USA become the dominant partner? The sources in this investigation will help you consider these and many other important questions.

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Key questions on Churchill: discussion, debate and historical controversy

Was Churchill a great orator?

To most people today this might seem like a very strange question. Churchill’s speeches during the Second World War are seen as almost legendary, inspiring the nation to fight Nazism and achieve final victory.

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