U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War lasted more than a decade. Have students analyze political cartoons from the primary source sets below to consider different issues related to this war and how cartoonists’ perspectives of U.S. involvement evolved over time. If students are not practiced at analyzing political cartoons, use the accompanying resources to help prepare and guide students in this type of primary source analysis. You may choose to have students analyze the cartoons twice, first without reviewing the curator notes/bibliographic information and again after. Look to the Common Core State Standards alignments below to inform activity tasks. After, have students create their own political cartoons to demonstrate understandings they gained of the Vietnam War (CCSS Writing standards 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10).
Enduring Understandings time, place, and culture influence our perspectives on people and issues; different perspectives affect the interpretation of history
Focus Question What perspectives did U.S. cartoonists provide of the Vietnam War during the course of U.S. involvement?
Vietnam War Political Cartoons 1965
Click the cartoons to view larger images; click the cartoon title to view curator notes/bibliographic information.
|Our position hasn’t changed at all||The other ascent into the unknown|
Vietnam War Political Cartoons 1961-1972
|1964 – Midnight reading||1966 – They won’t get us to the conference table . . . will they?||
1967 – LBJ and Vietnam spectres
|1968 – Uncle Sam carrying an M-16 rifle||1969 – The Mini-and-Maxi Era||1970 – How do I let go!|
|1971 – My last employment? Vietnam.||1972 – Now, as I was saying four years ago–||1973 – Can’t you grow up in 12 years??|
Understanding & Analyzing Political Cartoons
- Analyzing Primary Sources: Reading Cartoons
- The [political] Cartoon by Herb Herblock
- Analyzing Primary Sources: Learning from Political Cartoons
The Ungentlemanly Art: Political Illustrations Cartoon America online exhibition
Clifford H. (Baldy) Baldowski
- Biographical Essay
- Baldy’s Cartooning
- Clifford “Baldy” Baldowski (1917-1999) New Georgia Encyclopedia
- “The Cartoon” by Herb Block
- Stars of Political Cartooning – Herb “Herblock” Block Comic Book Resources
- “Toughest of Cartoonists . . . Nicest of Guys” Washington Post October 16, 2001
- Library of Congress online exhibitions
- Bill Mauldin Beyond Willie & Joe Library of Congress online exhibition
- Stars of Political Cartooning – Bill Mauldin Comic Book Resources
- Oliphant’s Anthem: Pat Oliphant at the Library of Congress Library of Congress online exhibition
- Master of ‘a Dying Art’ Wall Street Journal March 17, 2014
- Pulitzer Prize-winning Cartoonist, Vaughn Shoemaker Wheaton College Archives YouTube video
- Stars of Political Cartooning – Vaughn Shoemaker Comic Book Resources
- Edmund Valtman: The Cartoonist Who Came in From the Cold Library of Congress online exhibition
- Edmund Valtman, Cartoonist, Dies Hartford Courant January 15, 2005
- Primary Source Spotlight: Vietnam War
- Vietnam Online PBS American Experience
- The Wars for Vietnam: 1945-1975 Vassar College
- The Vietnam War Shmoop
Common Core State Standards Alignment
- RH.6-8.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.
- RH.6-8.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.
- RH.6-8.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
- RH.6-8.5. Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
- RH.6-8.6. Identify aspects of a text that reveal an author’s point of view or purpose (e.g., loaded language, inclusion or avoidance of particular facts).
- RH.6-8.7. Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
- RH.6-8.8. Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
- RH.6-8.9. Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.
- RH.6-8.10. By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
English Language Arts Standards » History/Social Studies » Grades 9-10
- RH.9-10.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, attending to such features as the date and origin of the information.
- RH.9-10.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.
- RH.9-10.3. Analyze in detail a series of events described in a text; determine whether earlier events caused later ones or simply preceded them.
- RH.9-10.4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.
- RH.9-10.6. Compare the point of view of two or more authors for how they treat the same or similar topics, including which details they include and emphasize in their respective accounts.
- RH.9-10.8. Assess the extent to which the reasoning and evidence in a text support the author’s claims.
- RH.9-10.9. Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.
- RH.9-10.10. By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 9–10 text complexity band independently and proficiently.
English Language Arts Standards » History/Social Studies » Grades 11-12
- RH.11-12.1. Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
- RH.11-12.2. Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.
- RH.11-12.3. Evaluate various explanations for actions or events and determine which explanation best accords with textual evidence, acknowledging where the text leaves matters uncertain.
- RH.11-12.6. Evaluate authors’ differing points of view on the same historical event or issue by assessing the authors’ claims, reasoning, and evidence.
- RH.11-12.7. Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, as well as in words) in order to address a question or solve a problem.
- RH.11-12.8. Evaluate an author’s premises, claims, and evidence by corroborating or challenging them with other information.
- RH.11-12.9. Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.
- RH.11-12.10. By the end of grade 12, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 11–CCR text complexity band independently and proficiently.