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U.S. History Lesson Plans on the Cold War

By definition, the Cold War is an abstraction. Without the sights and sounds of combat we usually associate with international tension and conflict, it can be difficult to fully grasp the enormous impact these 45 years of political hostility between the United States and the Soviet Union had on the world. By studying letters, speech transcripts, and other texts from this era, students can interact with the key voices from the Cold War and begin to understand the circumstances that led to popular culture’s images of Olympic boycotts, Hollywood blacklists, and backyard bomb shelters.

Core Documents Collection

The collection of documents on the Cold War explores the deepening tensions between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. after WWII. The documents go on to examine the associated conditions and power struggles in Asia and the Pacific, which would usher in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Finally, they share the voice of Ronald Reagan, who would begin to see some of the walls come down.

The Cold War Core Document volume contains over two dozen texts, including the following:

John Paton Davies 1943

  • Memorandum by the President’s Adviser and Assistant (Hopkins) of a Conversation During Dinner at the Kremlin

June 1, 1945

June 22, 1945

  • Excerpts from the Ambassador in China (Hurley) to the Secretary of State

July 10, 1945

  • Excerpts from Memorandum by Mr. Edwin A. Locke, Jr., Personal Representative of President Truman

August 20, 1945

  • Speech at Berkeley, California

Dean Acheson March 16, 1950

  • NSC-68: United States Objectives and Programs from National Security




April 14, 1950

  • New Policy of Boldness

John Dulles May 1952

  • Statement on Liberation Policy

John Dulles January 15, 1953

  • Observations on Massive Retaliation

Hans J. Moregenthau March 1954

  • Gulf of Tonkin Resolution

House Joint Resolution 1145

Public Law 88-408

August 10, 1964

  • Vietnam: The Third Face of the War

Lyndon B. Johnson May 13, 1965

  • Address to the Nation on Iran Arms and Contra Aid

Ronald Reagan March 4, 1987

  • Remarks at Moscow State University

Ronald Reagan May 31, 1988


You can use some or all of the Core Documents, tailoring them to your curriculum, schedule, and students’ needs. When you plan a lesson around a Core Document rather than a textbook, you will start to see your students making connections that bring the issues surrounding the Cold War to life.

Accessing the Cold War Core Documents is easy. Just click on the link below and find everything you need to bring the Cold War Era into your classroom today!

Access the Cold War Core Documents


SYNOPSIS: The Cold War volume of Core Documents Collections is designed to help teachers bring to life for students the enormous impact of this 45-year period of hostility between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Check out this unique resource, provided by Teaching American History.

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