A statewide project equipping K-12 educators to teach Iowa history using primary sources

Teaching Iowa History Logo

Home » Lesson Plans » Iowa Pacifist Conflict Homefront

The Iowa Pacifist: Conflict in the Homefront

Lesson Plan Item

General Information
Grade 9th Grade, 10th Grade Class US History Length of Lesson 50 Minutes
Lesson Title The Iowa Pacifist: Conflict in the Homefront
Unit Title Homefront During WWI
Unit Compelling Question Who all are affected by world war?
Historical Context:

Poster advertising Victory Liberty Loans. The poster is dated 1918.

Victory Liberty Loans were a type of war bond that was sold during World War I. Buying these loans was seen as a sign of patriotism. During the first Liberty Bond campaign of 1917, Iowan counties would receive a quota and residents were expected to pay the minimum amount. Due to little advertisement and interest, many counties did not reach their quota, resulting in a reputation of being unpatriotic. With the following campaigns, methods to pressure Iowans were enacted such as setting up "Loyalty Courts" in cities such as in Linn and Johnson County. Those who failed to contribute to the war effort were then required to appear in court. Along with increased advertisement such as posters, the following campaigns were successful.

George Heinemann, the president of the Amana Colonies, filled out this affidavit during World War I. The Amana Colonies was a religious and pacifist community that wished to avoid becoming involved in the conflict. This affidavit was one of many legal documents that the Amana Colonies submitted to the government in order to support its pacifist views and desire to stay out of the war.

During World War I, men from the Amana Colonies in Iowa County were exempted from serving in the military due to their religious and pacifist beliefs. In 1918, men from Iowa County gathered for a send-off event before they traveled to Camp Dodge for training. This newspaper clipping discusses how the event almost turned violent when many people became angry at the Amana colonists for not participating in the war.

This document certified that Albert Setzer had registered for military service. Setzer was one of about 30 Amana Society members who served in the United States Military during World War I. Due to their pacifist beliefs, Setzer and the other Amana Society members served in non-combat roles during the war. 

The members of Amana believed strongly in pacifist views, where they stayed out of European affairs before immigrating to the United States and continued after settling in New York and Iowa. Amana was excused from fighting during the Spanish American and Civil War by paying commutation fees to support Iowan soldiers in their place.

 The pacifist belief was met with disagreement by Iowa County residents as Amana men were sent home from Marengo in July of 1917 after being originally chosen for the draft in WWI. In January of 1918, the classification status of Amana residents was changed from 1 to 4, mean that they were deferred from fighting. Their place would be taken by other Iowa County men. Believing this was an act of disloyalty, angry Marengo residents marched to South Amana in protest, however the mob was stopped one mile outside of South Amana.

After WWI, the exemption of Amana residents from being drafted was rescinded. Despite their pacifist beliefs, the colonies supported the troops by  donating to the Red Cross, using Liberty Bonds and War Savings Stamps. The Amana Woolen Mill also produced 35,000 blankets for troops. In total, Amana gave approximately $2,000 per resident to the war effort.

This photograph shows a group of soldiers stationed at Camp Dodge near Johnston, Iowa, participating in morning exercise.

After the United States entered World War I in 1917, Camp Dodge played a significant role in the expansion of the United States military. Between September 5, 1917 and December 15, 1918, 111,462 recruits, including 37,111 Iowans, trained for service at Camp Dodge. The camp contained 1,409 buildings, twenty miles of streets, 8,000 horses and mules, a power plant, a hospital, and a peak garrison of 46,491 soldiers in July 1918. After the war ended, Camp Dodge became a demobilization center, and over 208,000 soldiers were discharged at the camp.

Camp Dodge was established in 1909 under Major General Grenville M. Dodge from Council Bluffs, Iowa who had served as Iowa's strongest commader during the Civil War. On June 15, 1917, the camp was chosen by the US Army Selectional Board as one of 16 regional training camps for the U.S. Army. The camp began to train soldiers from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. From July to November 1917, 30 barracks (each held 150 men) were constructed including a mess hall, assembly hall, post office, two headquarters buildings, an auditorium, a hospital, three fire station, libraries and eight YWCA halls.

After the war, Camp Dodge only housed Iowa National Guard soldiers. In 1921, the majority of the camp was sold to the Northwest Lumber and Wrecking Company in Minneapolis. The company bought 1,200 buildings for $251,000 and seven miles of the camp was demolished. Since the war, the Camp has served as the Iowa National Guard headquarters and in the 1990s, the addition of the United States Army's National Maintenance Training Center was built to continue the training of state soldiers.

Lesson Supporting Question What position did the people of the Amana colony take in regard to the war? And why? What key themes do we see with WWI propaganda? How did the Amana Colony’s stance go over with the greater Iowa public? Why was the homefront so important to the war?
Lesson Overview

The students will have just completed a lesson over the causes of World War I.  Along with this lesson, they learned some of the basic political history and diplomatic ties that included everyone in the war.  Now, however, we are going to look at a case involving one of the most important aspects of any war - the homefront.  


Students will examine the political cartoon and image of soldiers running to connect it to the greater propaganda themes that developed in World War I.  After that, students will review a declaration by the Amana Colonies along with the military record of the soldiers from the Amana colonies and discuss if people who choose to not fight in the war can still be patriotic.


Primary Sources Used
Resources Needed




File iowa_history_worksheet.docx, File copy_of_iowa_history_lesson_-_take_home_essay.docx
Lesson Target
  • Students will analyze various images and interpret their message
  • Students will construct an argument around the relationship between pacifism and patriotism.
Lesson Themes Cultural Events, Communal Groups, World War I
Lesson Procedure
Step Procedure Time Differentiation plan / Additional Information
1 Students will come into class and we will begin with a short review of the basic players in World War I and some of the basic things to look for when examining propaganda and primary sources.    
2 When everyone is caught up and ready to examine our primary sources, posit the question to the class, “Can you pacifist and still contribute to war?”  Wait 10 seconds to let it sink it and repeat the question. When you think they’re ready, have the students number off by 5. When the students are done the counting, have them arrange the desks into groups of five so the groups can rotate around the room freely    
3 (Transition) Have the students who numbered off go to the appropriate tables and then hand out copies of each of the primary sources for the students to examine.  Then hand out the copy of the worksheet.    
4 Group Activity - Students will have 5 minutes to examine the artifact they possess and discuss it with their group members.  Each artifact will have prompted questions on the worksheet for the students to answer.    
5 When students have finished the rounds, have the students come back together and discuss any questions that the class had that maybe were too difficult to answer.     
6 Bring discussion back to the front of the class discussing patriotism.  Have the students pull up a link sent to them about patriotism from an Op-Ed in the New York Times.  After a quick read, have the students discuss what is patriotism? Why is it important? What constitutes unpatriotic behavior?   Assign their formative assessment. Finally, assign a take-home essay discussing patriotism and the Amana Colonies.    
Formative Assessment
(How will you use the formative assessments to monitor and inform instruction?)
  • Students will do a take-home essay discussing patriotism. In the first part, they will discuss what patriotism means to them and if they believe they’re a patriot and why? In the second part, they are to discuss whether they believe the men from the Amana colonies were patriots? How does the role of religion play in all this? Why would people become so angry with them?
Summative Assessment
(How does the lesson connect to planned summative assessment(s)?)
Author Information
Author Zach Steger Reviewer Chad Christopher, History Education, University of Northern Iowa Created 02/18/2020 Last Edited 04/11/2020
Lesson Plan Development Notes: Teaching Methods, University of Northern Iowa, Fall 2019

Objects Large for Lesson Plans

No objects were found.