The Churchill Era Website, produced by Churchill Archives Centre, is specially designed to enable teachers and students to make use of archive material in the classroom.
Document work is an important part of the requirements of history courses both at GCSE and at AS and A level. Students are required to analyse and evaluate source material, either as part of a source exercise, or else in researching an Extended Essay or Personal Study. In addition, work with documents is an important part of the requirements for Key Skills assessment.
This website is divided into units reflecting important issues which arose during the long public career of Sir Winston Churchill. Each unit contains two or three specific enquiries which can be addressed and explored using material drawn from the Churchill Archives.
Each enquiry consists of a key question, and a series of exercises based upon relevant documentary material which will help the student to develop an answer to the key question. These exercises include document analysis, comparison of documents, and work with pictures, maps and statistics.
Some of the exercises test comprehension of the material; others require students to put the material in its context. Students may work singly or in groups. The exercises can then be used in writing a short report or essay in response to the Key Question.
Some of the documents have been reproduced in their original form, especially where this is relevant to the analysis or evaluation of the material.
Key words, terms, and names may be checked in the website glossary (use the "Background" button at the left of the screen.)
Churchill served as First Lord of the Admiralty and as Minister of Munitions in the Liberal Governments which took Britain through the First World War. He was intimately involved in leading the British response to the perceived German naval threat before the war, and his was the bold but ultimately over-ambitious plan to try to seize the Dardanelles. The enquiries in this unit invite students to assess how real the German naval threat to Britain was before 1914; the extent to which Churchill was to blame for the Dardanelles disaster or was just unlucky; and whether or not it is time to rehabilitate the reputation of Field Marshal Sir Douglas Haig.
After the First World War, enormous faith was placed, especially in Britain, in the role of the League of Nations in dealing with international disputes, but by the early 1930s both Italy and Japan had shown that they could undertake aggressive policies with impunity. Churchill was a stern critic of the British policy of appeasement in the 1930s, and hindsight has been kind to him, but he had been out of political office since 1929, and his warnings seemed to ignore the realities of Britain's military weakness and of public opposition to rearmament. This enquiry considers the issue of whether it is right to view Churchill as a lone voice of reason in his opposition to appeasement.
Enquiry 1 Appeasement: The Gathering Storm