The sources have been carefully selected from the Churchill Archive to explore the question of Churchill’s stand on appeasement. As a collection of eight sources they can be used to build up a picture of thoughts and opinions on appeasement. Teachers could ask students, either as individuals or pairs or small groups, to look at a smaller number of sources and then report back. However, it’s probably better to try to get students to use all eight sources if possible. This way they can move beyond the sources as individual documents and use them more in the way a historian would, as a collection of documents which illustrate the past more effectively as a coherent group.
With this basis in mind, students who have looked at the collection might then be challenged with tasks which extend their thinking and understanding. For example:
You might ask students if the sources provide an answer to the question posed by this enquiry.
|Source||Support the view AT FACE VALUE that Churchill was a lone voice||Do not support the view AT FACE VALUE that Churchill was a lone voice||Reasons why the source is strong or weak evidence about this particular issue (eg date of source, typicality, the way Churchill is addressed)|
Students can sometimes fall into the trap of assuming that documents represent ‘the whole’ of the story rather than being part of the puzzle which historians have to piece together. It might be useful to ask them to discuss the following assertions in groups:
If time permits, a really interesting and useful follow up exercise would be to select a file of constituency correspondence and ask students to work through it, counting out how many ‘for’ and how many ‘against’ letters it contains. A good example of such a file is: CHAR 7/107.
As they look through the sources students might be puzzled in that the letters make clear that Churchill certainly wasn’t a lone voice on appeasement. This raises questions:
Some of the sources provide interesting starting points for students to investigate the questions further. Source 1 illustrates the way in which The Gathering Storm, Churchill’s own account of these years, has influenced public opinion. Source 5 indicates how the media of the time tried to influence public opinion about appeasement in Britain. Students could find much useful material to investigate these questions through further searches in the Churchill Archive. After that, they might want to look at the UK National Archives Cabinet Papers and also the British Pathe Collection. Relevant links to all of these resources can be found in the ‘Background’ section.