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Inquiry Question

Historical Context

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Readings

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About This Lesson

This lesson is based on the National Register of Historic Places registration files for the SS John W. Brown, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien (with photographs), the SS American Victory, and the SS Red Oak Victory, the National Historic Landmark nomination file for the SS Lane Victory (with photographs), and other sources. Jay Michalsky, a historical researcher, wrote this lesson. Jean West, education consultant, and the Teaching with Historic Places staff edited the lesson. This lesson is one in a series that brings important stories of historic places into classrooms across the country.

Where it fits into the curriculum
Topics: This lesson can be used in U.S. history, world history, social studies, and geography courses on World War II.
Time period: World War II
Relevant United States History Standards for Grades 5-12
Relevant Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
Find your state's social studies and history standards for grades Pre-K-12

Objectives for students
1) To outline the reasons behind the massive merchant-ship building program the United States undertook in the years before its entry in World War II.
2) To examine how changing technology affected the conduct of warfare.
3) To compare and contrast the Liberty ships and the Victory ships.
4) To conduct oral histories with local people involved in supporting the war effort.

Materials for students
The materials listed below either can be used directly on the computer or can be printed out, photocopied, and distributed to students. The maps and images appear twice: in a smaller, low-resolution version with associated questions and alone in a larger version.
1) two maps showing selected shipyards in the United States and the North Atlantic Ocean;
2) three readings about Liberty ships and Victory ships;
3) four photographs of Liberty ships, Victory ships, and convoys;
4) One stamp showing a Liberty ship.

Visiting the site
The Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O'Brien is located at Pier 45 on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, California. The ship is open to the public and cruises are available. The ship is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except on New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. There is an admission charge. For more information, contact the National Liberty Ship Memorial, Pier 23, San Francisco, CA 94111, or visit the ship's website.

The Liberty Ship SS John W. Brown is located in Baltimore, Maryland. The ship is open to the public and cruises are available. The ship is open Sundays and Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., except on Christmas. From I-95 take the Keith Avenue exit. Follow Keith Avenue west to Clinton Street. Turn right on Clinton Street and proceed to 2000 S. Clinton Street, Pier 1. For more information, contact Project Liberty Ship, P.O. Box 25846, Highlandtown Station, Baltimore, MD 21224, or visit the ship's website.

The Victory Ship SS American Victory is located near the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, Florida at Berth 271. The ship is open to the public and cruises are available. The ship is open Monday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sundays 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. There is an admission charge. From I-275 take the Downtown East exit to Jefferson Street. Continue south on Jefferson Street to Twiggs Street. Turn left on Twiggs Street to Channelside Drive. Turn right on Channelside Drive to York Street. Turn left on York Street to the Florida Aquarium parking lot. For more information, contact American Victory Ship, 705 Channelside Drive, Tampa, FL 33602, or visit the ship's website.

The Victory Ship SS Lane Victory is located at the Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro, California. The ship is open to the public and cruises are available. The ship is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is an admission charge. From the Harbor Freeway (I-110) take the Harbor Boulevard exit. Stay to the right and follow the signs to Harbor Boulevard. Once off the freeway, stay in the center lane and go into the Catalina Terminal. Follow the signs to the SS Lane Victory at Berth 94. For more information, contact the United States Merchant Marine Veterans of World War II, P.O. Box 629, San Pedro, CA 90733, or visit the ship's website.

The Victory Ship SS Red Oak Victory is located in Richmond, California and is part of the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park. The ship is administered by the Richmond Museum of History and is open to the public. The ship is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except when there is severe weather. Donations are requested. From either I-80 or I-580 take the Cutting Boulevard exit. Continue west on Cutting Blvd. to a four-way stop sign. Take a left on Dornan Drive through the Ferry Point tunnel to Terminal One, 1500 Dornan Drive. Please note the ship is scheduled to be relocated in early 2005. For more information, contact the SS Red Oak Victory, Terminal 1, 1500 Dornan Drive, Richmond, CA 94801, or visit the ship's website.

Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, located in Richmond, California, preserves and interprets the history of the men and women who worked in the factories and shipyards in Richmond during World War II. It is a partnership between the National Park Service, the City of Richmond, the Rosie the Riveter Trust, and the Richmond Museum of History, and is made up of noncontiguous units near the Richmond waterfront. Many of the units are owned by the City of Richmond while others are privately owned. The park was created in 2000 and is still in development; therefore, certain sites are not yet open to the public. Several units are open to the public, including the Rosie the Riveter Memorial, which is open from dawn to dusk every day, the John J. Sheridan Observation Point, and the Victory Ship SS Red Oak Victory. For more information about the park, contact the Superintendent, Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park, 1401 Marina Way South, Richmond, CA 94804 or visit the park's website or the park's partner, the Rosie the Riveter Trust.

 

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